The gravelly voiced soul of West Coast crooner Anderson .Paak evokes scarred spirit and personal pain that we can all relate to on his newest album, Malibu. When the dusty downtrodden grooves that he lays his vocals of hope mixed with despair hits the air, you can tell he's been through some tough times. Paak's music is infused with the body rocking swing of that early 90s G Funk Era. Tracks like "The Season/Carry Me", "Put Me Thru", "Am I Wrong" sonically take you to his world of wonder with rolling bass lines, tight horn arrangements and well mixed percussion. It's rare to hear this layered approach to R&B in this mainly digital age. Lyrically he poses the biggest threat to the difference of today's sex first only songs. He speaks of memories of a low income childhood that still found him wearing his first pair of Jordan's at six years old. Paak also takes time to reflect on love that transforms his thoughts from lofty to lustful to lingering. His take on a sexy woman with some big breasts and figuring out what her mind is like on "Silicon Valley" is humorous and worth the time of thought. It's refreshing to hear a touch of D'Angelo's influence in his cadence and pitch. The features of Rapsody, SchoolBoyQ, The Game and Talib Kweli balance the gangsta lane with the righteous way in unison. It also speaks to Paak's state of mind as an artist. He speaks to both sides of the fence of good and gritty, which the song "The Dreamer" explains perfectly, bringing the album to its rightful close. Anderson Paak is the embodiment of dreams coming true despite the odds saying otherwise.
—Datwon Thomas, Editor-in-chief
You know you've stumbled across something special when your face scrunches up before the :30 second mark of any album. Anderson .Paak—whose voice truly perked my ears up during a brief appearance on GoldLink's And After That We Didn't Talk—is a rapper, singer-songwriter, and immediate charmer of sorts. The California native has a voice that you feel more than you hear, and it's evident on his latest LP, Malibu.
Admittedly, 16 tracks is an exhausting sight to see at first, but it doesn't feel overwhelming when you press play. Driven by .Paak's raspy, breathy croon, Malibu is a colorful palette of sounds, flavors and slick rhymes deeply rooted in soul, funk and jazz (a sound my ears immediately linked to Kendrick Lamar circa To Pimp A Butterfly, which is a great thing).
With language for the young and groove for the seasoned, there's something for everyone here. Lively trumpets, saxes, drums and keys are the powering forces behind "Come Down" and "Put Me Thru" while things slow down and get introspective on the Rapsody-enhanced "Without You" and "Room In Here" with The Game and Sonyae Elise.
Oxnard, California is where Paak calls home, but Malibu—named after the surf-friendly SoCal locale 36 minutes away—is ripe with moments for Midwest stepping and fancy footwork combos. "Two-step in the corridor/Spinning the greatest hits of Hall & Oates," he raps swiftly after the warm and woozy hook of "Heart Don't Stand A Chance." "Lite Weight" falls in the same pleasant party vein.
Another admirable note about Malibu is how .Paak, a married man and proud father, looks at love, lust and doing the deed. There is a playfulness stitched throughout his expressions of affection. It's a rare case that you find such delight in sexuality. On "Am I Wrong", light-hearted flirtatiousness takes the reigns rather than painful promises to "knock that p***y out like fight night" and other beat it up-isms. "Am I wrong to assume/If she can dance, then she can't ooh?" .Paak asks playfully before a PG-rated ScHoolboy Q delivers a cussless feature.
You get the sense that .Paak doesn't take himself too seriously in general. With songs titled "Water Fall (Interluuube)" and ditties about "titty meat" delivered under the patina of his gentle, soothing rasp, you can't help but chuckle as his voice comforts you.
With no true duds present, this project presents more than a handful of shining stars. The honeyed vocals, OutKast-esque horns and overall cleverness of "Silicon Valley." .Paak's call and response with a trumpet on "The Bird." The sweetness of BJ The Chicago Kid washing over you in "The Waters." The triple time breakdown that kicks off the excellent DJ Khalil-produced "Your Prime."
There are so many goodies and good vibes packed into this one LP that, after dancing, the only thing I'm left to do is press repeat and wait with open ears as Anderson .Paak's career unfolds before me.
—Stacy-Ann Ellis, Assistant Editor
Anderson .Paak is a f*****g problem, plainly.
Sure, I arrived late to his conquering of Dr. Dre's Compton --where he racked up an impressive six features -- but when Dre gives an artist free range to wax poetically and go for broke on several tracks, you listen. You also familiarize yourself with that artist's work and download every available project, too, because if anyone has tried and true foresight it's certainly the man who groomed the careers of Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar.
Months after breaking through to the masses thanks to Dre's cosign, the 29-year-old singer-rapper has seriously solidified himself as five mic-worthy with his recent solo release, Malibu. Although 2012 was actually .Paak's debut year under the alias Breezy Lovejoy, and 2014 gave birth to his first album Venice that was met with minor success, he's certainly bound for major success with Malibu. Honestly, the funky soul-derived project is all too good of a groove not to garner such recognition.
As the album's cover art suggests, the 16-track LP toasts to .Paak's influences --nearly everything but the kitchen sink -- as he eloquently fuses the traditional sounds of soul and R&B for a confident contemporary twist. For newbies, they'll be introduced to his scratchy scat that proves to be soothing (with a bit of patience), while loyal followers will continue to toast to his unique reverb that all generations can wholly appreciate.
On the album's mid-tempo kicker "The Bird," .Paak schools all on the ripe sometimes moldy fruits of his upbringing that equipped him with the patience to navigate through life, complete with a sweet flair of golden trumpets and swift piano key work. As the project progresses, he flaunts his full-range sound, spitting a few thorough rhymes ("The Waters") and serenading audiences with a charismatic approach to crooning ("Silicon Valley").
But most noteworthy is the fact that.Paak fully comprehends the art of the feature. While ScHoolboy Q, The Game, Talib Kweli, BJ The Chicago Kid and Rapsody all have their own unique sound, none of them truly steal the show, as .Paak brings them into his whimsical, sometimes spacey world, comprising not one bit of his sound. An honorable mention goes to ScHoolboy Q's transformation from Figg Street representer to Groovy Q on "Am I Wrong," once again a testament to the magic that is .Paak.
It's official: Anderson .Paak has arrived and nabbed a spot on my end-of-year list.
—Ashley Monaé, Contributing Editor
Are you still asleep? Stop tapping the snooze icon and start pressing the play button on Anderson. Paak's latest musical offering, Malibu.
The 16-track project is an instant refresher if you're looking for a thought-provoking artist to jam out to. The Cali native sends you into a wave of feel-good melodies while showcasing his clever and witty wordplay, and a knack for selecting producers who craft one-of-a-kind originals.
The collaborations sprinkled throughout the soundscape succeed in not covering up the magic found within .Paak's vocals. Enlisting the lyrical services of rappers The Game, Schoolboy Q, Talib Kweli, and Rapsody, .Paak also spits a few lines alongside his peers. But it's his joint track with BJ The Chicago Kid ("The Waters"), that'll make you wish and long for a full-length project featuring the pair.
.Paak's church upbringing also shines on the album, whether it's his struggle with keeping his head above water on "The Season" or the choirs that provide chilling support vocals on "Lite Weight," and "The Dreamer." On the topic of vocals, there's one mysterious set of pipes that has listeners scratching their heads. Towards the end of "Without You," there's a singer that croons a recurring line, but the melody abruptly stops, snapping you out of your trance.
The turn-down-the-lights portion of the album arrives with the fittingly-named "Water Fall (Interluuube)" and "Silicon Valley." The sounds remind you of a basement party with deep blue lights and melanin slowly swaying to the instrumental.
Throughout the musical journey, it's evident that .Paak is all about the groove, making you put on your dancing shoes to bust a two-step to "Come Down," or "Am I Wrong." There's a little bit of something for any type of listener on Malibu, so add this to your rotation and zone out to .Paak's stellar album.
—Camille Augustin, Assistant Editor
There’s something warmly familiar about Anderson Paak despite never having been introduced to him. The 29-year-old’s voice is raspy, almost sans table manners, but what it lacks in refinement, he makes up for with undeniable passion that reverberates into the headphones of any listener in search of something deeper, or slightly left of center.
Paak’s full-length LP Malibu is as colorful, balanced and eccentric as the project’s cover art. A glorious hodgepodge of emotions and life lessons, some learned, some repeated, over live instrumentation and raw, gut-punching lyrics make Malibu equal parts tender, titillating and thought-provoking.
On the project’s opening track, The Bird, Paak speaks honestly about the “lonely castle” he was raised in, made even more lonely by his mother’s gambling problem and his father’s incarceration. From there, listeners are taken on a soulful, yet funky 16-track ride that neither gets old or lazy.
The Schoolboy Q assisted “Am I Wrong” is a groovy, shoulder-swaying single while, "Without You", is the perfect soundtrack for a rainy Sunday that speaks of the ups and downs of most love affairs. The funk and groove of “Come Down” will stop you mid-sentence and force you to do your favorite two-step, while "Silicon Valley” as lustful as it is, sounds like a single foolishly thrown away during a D’Angelo Voodoo recording session.
There’s so much musical and lyrical goodness on Malibu, every song will easily become your new favorite, or the truest sign of appreciation, be the caption for your Instagram post.
But above all else, Anderson Paak proves that instruments, pianos, trumpets, horns and drums, not only do they work, but they’re actually pretty fucking dope when paired with (dare we say it) real artists.
—Shenequa Golding, Assistant Editor