Despite being released last year, Redbone was a sleeper hit. It only recently re-entered the charts, becoming Childish Gambino’s first top 20 hit! Its easy to see why this track took so long to find its footing. It departs from Gammbino’s usual hip-hop styling in favor of a more classic RnB sound. With a heavy dose of retro soul, Redbone doesn’t exactly sound like anything else on the charts. However that’s exactly what makes this song so refreshing.
Redbone burns slowly with a sensual and soulful sound. It takes us right back to the 60’s with its acoustic drums, funky baseline, and classic Mellotron keyboards. Key to the vintage sound, however, is Gambino’s unique vocal delivery. His voice is completely unaltered. Instead, he notes that he simply “Sang it differently.” His voiced is raised in pitch, yet with a smokey delivery, his voice simply smolders with soul as he sings about his love doing him wrong.
The classic sound and unique vocal delivery are striking, and give the song its own bold flavor. However, the slow burning jam might burn a little too slowly for some. The song’s second half is energized by Gambino’s soulful wailing, deep keyboard synths, and blusey guitars. Unfortunately, it comes a bit too late into the song, making its five and a half minute run time seem stretched out a little too long.
While it may sound out of place on pop radio, fans of soul and RnB music will be pleased with Redbone’s vintage soul sound. It shows off a new side to Gambino’s multifaceted sound, and provides the summer’s most soulful song…even if it was released last fall…
Final Score: B+