17 February 2016

REVIEW: Anderson.Paak - Malibu

Aftermath's newest signee, Anderson.Paak, set off 2016 with a bang last month when he released his sophomore album Malibu.  The artist formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy has been making waves and paying serious dues since 2010, but it wasn't until last year when the Oxnard, California native began to inch his way into the forefront with a gang of soulful features spread across two classic west coast projects in Compton, and The Documentary 2.  Allying himself with Dre and Game no doubt gave his brand a much-needed boost, but fans were still left wondering just who this kid with the raspy voice was on their songs.  Malibu puts Anderson.Paak's artistry on full display, and arrived at a time when his contributions to other projects were still fresh in our minds.

"Couldn't fake it if I wanted to.  I had to wake up just to make it through.  I got my patience and I'm making due.  I learn my lessons from the ancient roots.  I choose to follow what the greatest do."  These lines that coat the soul-cleansing intro "The Bird" do an adequate job showing where Paak gets his inspiration, but it's clear that Anderson is cut from very rare cloth even without dissecting his lyrics.  The intro is followed up by "Heart Don't Stand A Chance," which shows Paak further solidifying his identity rooted in music from legends of the past.  He doesn't hesitate to bear his soul on introspective tracks like "The Season | Carry Me," but also knows how to rock a grown and sexy banger on songs such as "Am I Wrong," with ScHoolboy Q.  Speaking of which, Malibu is a star studded affair from front to back.  In addition to Q, Paak is blessed with assists from Jamla's first lady Rapsody, The Game, BJ the Chicago Kid, and Talib Kweli.  Behind the scenes we have Madlib, 9th Wonder, Hi-Tek, and even Paak himself contributing to the stellar production that help flesh out the album.

One thing I've mentioned in several of my recent reviews is the concept of listenability.  An artist can have a voice blessed by god, and may also be lucky enough to have access to the best beats money can buy, but how does that contribute to the overall cohesion of a project?  The answer to this question is where the true genius of an artist shines.  Malibu is an absolutely amazing album, one where Anderson.Paak shows that he has a clear vision for the direction of the project.  The rasp in his tone is reminiscent of the best of Bilal and Lyfe Jennings.  Couple that with relatable stories of struggle and come-up, all presented in a way that is so avant-garde that comparisons to other artists are quickly thrown out the window after only diving a few tracks in.  It was just months ago when he was crushing it on Andre Young's magnum opus, and even more recent with his features spread across Jayceon Taylor's masterful double album.  So it's great to see Anderson.Paak wasting no time using his moment to introduce newcomers to who he really is.  Even though Malibu is technically his second album, his platform now is much more prominent.  This means that it's sink or swim for the thirty year-old, but judging from the countless cosigns this man has received, it's a pretty safe bet that he will be giving us great music for the foreseeable future.
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