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.