Anderson .Paak – Malibu

by Matt Sherman (Business), published February 29th 2016

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

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Anderson .Paak. Yes, my punctuation is correct. He put that dot in front of the “P” to remind himself of attention to detail. As it turns out, he paid very close attention to detail when crafting Malibu, his second album under the name Anderson .Paak and his first directly under the spotlight. Paak grew up in a Black/Korean family in Oxnard, Ca. and his decade-long pursuit of a music career plays out like a modern-day Steinbeck novel about making it in California, culminating in an explosive 2015 where he released two EPs and appeared on six songs on Dr. Dre’s Compton. He previously made a living as a back-up drummer and even worked on a weed farm. But before all that and throughout his album, he details his growth through first-hand experience and an incredible blend of genres.

Opening track “The Bird” displays his roots in life and in music. It blends soul, funk and hip-hop, a cocktail served in plenty, and details a family situation both personal and communal. On songs like “Am I Wrong,” “Parking Lot” and “Lite Weight,” the vibe is dancier and the music more fast-paced, with .Paak acting as groove foreman. On my personal favorite “The Waters,” which features BJ The Chicago Kid, .Paak eases back into rapping still spitting with a smooth cadence and elongating rhymes to the melody. One thing you will learn about .Paak as you listen is that he can ride the beat like few others.

On “The Season/Carry Me,” a two-part song released as a single before the close of 2015, .Paak jumps between plaintive cries and attacking rhymes on the first part and transitions with the beat into an effortlessly cool verse for the latter half, singing “six years old, i tried my first pair of Jordan’s on.” His features are few, yet perfectly placed. On “Without You,” he snags a great Rapsody verse where the two trade verses on past relationships. Returning the favor for two features on The Documentary 2, The Game drops a surprisingly insightful verse on “Room in Here.” Later on, Talib Kweli helps close out the album on the ecstatic “The Dreamer,” a song packing the full force of nostalgia and leaving the album on a high, optimistic note.

.Paak does an artful job of treading the line between R&B and hip-hop while opening up the music to more influences of funk and soul. His singing voice is high, unique and soulful in that it has slight gravelly imperfections. There is a sort of pain in his voice, the kind that all soul singers have and that is a conductant between listener and artist. On “Silicon Valley,” he channels a bit of Outkast-style funk and gives his best singing performance of the album, asking “what’s behind them tig ole bitties?”, meaning the heart.  When he raps, if it can be called that, he turns his delivery into a soul singer talking to you, half singing and rapping. If Otis Redding was recording music nowadays, it might sound similar.

Throughout the album and between songs are sound-bites of Malibu surf culture. While not clearly tied into the subject matter, they create an aesthetic and mind-frame linking the project. Overall, the album stands as an incredible start to 2016. Two weeks after its release, it was announced that Dr. Dre had signed .Paak to Aftermath Records. There is much more in store for this artist in 2016, and it will be interesting to see his development under the limelight.

Recommended Tracks: “The Waters,” “The Season/Carry Me,” “The Dreamer”

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