Redbone

Album: Awaken, My Love! (2016)
Charted: 51 12
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  • Lyrics
  • Childish Gambino sings on this sultry jam of his girlfriend with a caramel complexion. ("Redbone" is a term for a light-skinned black woman.) He begins the song by referencing the morning sex he isn't getting with her and on the hook warns her to "stay woke" (vigilant) if they are going to make the relationship work.
  • Though there are no actual samples, the melody pays homage to the 1976 Bootsy Collins track "I'd Rather Be With You." There are also similarities to bassist Jaco Pastorius' 1976 instrumental "Portrait Of Tracy," which is prominently sampled in SWV's "Rain" and Chingy and Tyrese's "Pullin' Me Back."
  • Did you think there was some vocal pitching by Gambino here? Turns out his singing on Awaken, My Love! was essentially untouched.

    "Actually, there wasn't a ton of vocal stuff done," Gambino insisted to Australia's Triple J Breakfast radio show. "I think people hear 'Redbone' and like, 'Oh, he pitched up his vocals.' And there was no vocal pitching on the album. I just sang differently."
  • The song soundtracks the opening credits of Jordan Peele's horror film Get Out. Speaking to Hip Hop DX, Peele explained why he chose the Childish Gambino track for his movie:

    "Well, first of all, I love the 'Stay Woke' [lyric] - that's what this movie is about," he said. "I wanted to make sure that this movie satisfied the black horror movie audience's need for characters to be smart and do things that intelligent and observant people would do."
  • Childish Gambino penned the instrumentation with his frequent collaborator, the Swedish composer and producer Ludwig Göransson, who has handled most of the production of Gambino's projects since his 2010 Culdesac mixtape. Göransson told Genius that he arrived at the studio without any preconceived ideas what the pair were going to do that day.

    "We were just chilling and then Donald started playing drums," he recalled. "He was like, 'I have this beat. Let's just play this drum beat.' We had all the instruments spread out in the whole room, in the whole studio, and just went from one to another to another, hearing ideas and basically just recording a bunch of tracks on top of each other. That was kind of the seed of the idea, that was sort of the first of 'Redbone' kind of started."
  • "Redbone" is a Cajun term for a person of mixed race. The multiethnic group Redbone, who had a big hit in the '70s with "Come And Get Your Love," took their name from this term.
  • This was used in an ad for the animoji iPhone feature, where an alien-like emoji sings it backed by other emojis. The spot aired on the Grammy Awards telecast in 2018 after Gambino performed "Terrified" on the show.
  • At the Grammy Awards in 2018, this lost Record of the Year to "24K Magic" by Bruno Mars, but won for Best Traditional R&B Performance.
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