If you were paying attention to featured guests and collaborators on rap albums in 2015, the name Anderson .Paak was one that appeared on a few albums – Dr. Dre’s Compton, The Game’s The Documentary 2.5, Busdriver’s Thumbs and his joint effort with Knxwledge as NxWorries for Stones Throw.
2016 is the year that Paak, a Californian songwriter, producer and singer makes his own mark, via Malibu, his second solo album after 2014’s Venice (not counting two LPs as Breezy Lovejoy).
The timing is right. Malibu is the sound of a post To Pimp A Butterfly world, the album has some of the same spirit as Kendrick’s seminal 2015 Californian album. It has a parallel jazz-smudged funk, soul and R&B feel to it.
While primarily a soul singer, Paak has abilities akin to Kendrick in his rhyme and cadence that further feels like a parallel as you can hear on the ‘The Waters’, a heartfelt album highlight featuring BJ The Chicago Kid.
Unlike Lamar’s macro-level album, Malibu is more of a personal concern addressing his family: both his parents: his mother – a strawberry grower, his father was in the Air Force, were sent to prison, once together when Paak was 17 while his dad was sent to prison first when Paak was seven. There are references throughout to his situation. Otherwise, the object of his romantic affections is the focus.
There is a sweetness to Paak that translates well on tracks like ‘Hearts Don’t Stand A Chance’ and on ‘Put Me Thru’ Paak recalls one of the greats: Curtis Mayfield.
Already a competent producer on his own, Paak enlists beats from Hi-Tek, 9th Wonder, Madlib and Kaytranada and guest verses from Schoolboy Q, The Game and Talib Kweli. They drop in and add colour but it’s Paak that endures throughout the 16 tracks.
The Schoolboy Q-featuring ‘Am I Wrong’ has a swerving disco feel to it while the producer known for bumping a disco beat Kaytranada plays it cooler than usual which fits right in. The Game even sounds at home on the pleasingly piano ramble ‘Room In Here’ while the effervescent ‘Come Down’ is perhaps the album’s most immediate track.
The result is a substantial album that repackages the past and serves as much as a statement for fresh talent of the future.
12 tracks from the album:
Niall Byrne is the founder of the most-influential Irish music site Nialler9, where he has been writing about music since 2005 . He is the cohost of the Nialler9 Podcast and has written for the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Cara Magazine, Sunday Times, Totally Dublin, Red Bull and more. Niall is a DJ, founder of Lumo Club, event curator and producer of gigs, parties & events.