Singer/Rapper and multi-instrumentist, as well as musician Anderson .Paak entered 2016 riding the wave of his big break as one of the most significant contributors on Dr. Dre’s opus 2015 album, Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre. So going into the year there was understandably so, a lot of high expectations for .Paak’s sophmore album, Malibu.
Boy did he ever deliver too. As the very old school, soulful, West Coast Hip-Hop vibe of the album, has the California native so masterfully blending everything from funk to R&B, soul and Hip-Hop in such a fantastic way, which is like no other and can’t be boxed into one specific genre. The songs mixing tragic themes of love and companionship, as well as personal stories about his troubled family and past events in his life, such as the hard times he had to go through. Thus making him more relatable to the average everyday person with his common man like problems he makes the best out of.
Though it’s not one of his best songs on Malibu, The Waters, really lays out his musical history the best with its opening lines: “Tried to tell n*^#as in 2012, n*^#a. Working hand to hand and no avail. Volume one was too heavy for you frail n*^#as. So I got leaned like codeine and pills.” So while he has been making soulful music and hustling for a minute, it wasn’t until his contributions to Dre’s album that people really started to take notice.
.Paak’s energy and swagger along with his knife-sharp flow throughout the album really shows how versatile he’s as an artist. One minute him sing-rapping with a raspy and animated voice about his love for Hennessy and record players on the trap-influenced standout, Your Prime. Another him really singing and giving off a funky energetic highlight of a groove with the ScHoolboy Q-assisted, Am I Wrong. Songs like the just mentioned one and Room in Here really showcasing .Paak’s more lighter and smoother form of delivery, when he’s truly at his best.
Sure you can hear him rapping on the album, but the Oxford, California native is really truly at his best when he is singing. Showing off his unique voice, which just oozes soul and you can really feel the emotions of when he sings. This is most evident on the standout above mentioned, Room in Here featuring The Game and Sonyae Elise. A very catchy song that’s an ode to the ecstasy that can happen between two lovers when they’re comfortably alone in a room together. Anderson so effortlessly singing the catchy lyrics, “Baby this room in here, just enough for two in here, ain’t nobody but you and me in here. Yeah, what can we do in here?” While Game delivers a standout one minute guest verse that will get any woman in that right mood. The guest appearances being another very strong point of the album, like the very stellar one from Rapsody on the Hiatus Kaiyote-sampled 9th Wonder-produced standout, Without You.
Topnotch production from the likes of DJ Khalil, Madlib, 9th and Hi-Tek is how you get such stellar smooth mellow R&B records like, The Bird and the already previously mentioned soulful trap-themed, Your Prime. Not to mention innovative combos like The Season/Carry Me and funk fun-filled bangers like Am I Wrong and Come Down.
With its seamless effortless transitions of sounding like 60’s or 70’s soul on one record or 90’s Hip-Hop to old school Funk on another, really showing how music truly has no boundaries and is one of the things that makes Malibu so great of an album. One that’s lyrical and musical scope also has .Paak sounding reminiscent of the beautiful gorgeous sensuality of such legendary artists like D’Angelo one minute or the beautiful mellow tone of Stevie Wonder in another. While showing the lyrical sharp observations of Kendrick Lamar in another minute or the high energetic funk of a Janelle Monáe in another. Not to mention also the pure soulfulness of one of his more notable guest features, BJ the Chicago Kid.
At its core though, Malibu is a soulfully beautiful and honest album, which paints a fictional dreamy paradise of the beautifully sunny and gorgeous go-to California destination. With how you feel like you’re actually in the breezy gorgeous paradise that’s Malibu, California with each listen of this timeless album, it’s quite fitting of its actual name. Arguably one of the best albums, if not the absolute best album, across any genre of music to come out for all of 2016, it’s no wonder that Malibu is also such a critically acclaimed album, which is also very deservedly so one of the standouts of many great Grammy-nominees for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the upcoming Grammys. With each song making you feel the need to rewind back to not only see if you can catch something you didn’t on the first listen, but also see that they truly each are such great songs too.
One of the few downsides or challenges of Malibu is that it will more than likely be hard for .Paak to once again make such a soulful and relatable album. He does show on the album though, like a lot, but not all of Dre protege’s, he has the substance to be around for years to come and we will definitely be hearing plenty more of him in the future.