MUST LISTEN

Expectation: Anderson Paak has been blowing up since 2015. Previously known as Breezy Lovejoy, Paak’s primary collaborators under his previous moniker included Wax, Dumbfoundead, and Watsky. Following his name change and 2014 album, Venice, Paak gained the attention of Dr. Dre, and promptly became one of the fastest rising stars in the industry. Since being featured on six songs from Dr. Dre’s album, Compton, Paak has worked with The Game, ScHoolboy Q, Mac Miller, and more, including producer Knxledge, with whom he has released 2 projects under the name NxWorries. Malibu came out right in the middle of this success, and is largely viewed as Paak’s best work to date.

TRACK-BY-TRACK

  • The Bird – A smooth opening track that excellently hands the groove from piano to guitar to trumpet as it progresses. Paak’s vocals are calm and confident, and the production is fluid and alive.
  • Heart Don’t Stand a Chance – Paak will use whatever he needs to in order to make the best song he can, whether its a 2 bar rap at the start of each verse to smooth the transition, or a sample of Yoshi’s dying sound to make the breakdown feel wild.
  • The Waters – Not only can Paak sing, produce, and play, but the man can rap. BJ the Chicago Kid contributes some great vocals as well.
  • The Season | Carry Me – The single that first hooked me on Paak’s music, and just a fantastic song. The first half is straight neo-soul before the guitar pulls out a slow, bluesy riff, soon followed by Paak’s switching from singing to rapping. This song is practically a sampler of everything that makes Paak so exciting.
  • Put Me Thru – A funky R&B track with a great hook and plenty of soulful harmonies.
  • Am I Wrong – R&B tinged with disco that sounds perfectly naturally when Paak does it. ScHoolboy Q doesn’t contribute much, but at least his name brings much deserved exposure.
  • Without You – A smooth, soulful track with especially gorgeous instrumentation and a fantastic guest verse from Rapsody.
  • Parking Lot – A bit of upbeat R&B and a jazzy swing, then suddenly you feel like dancing, only proving that Paak can do anything he wants and it will just work.
  • Room In Here – If you listen carefully, there’s a bit of Badu in the melody here, but there is no one else in 2016 doing this kind of R&B as well as Paak. The Game feels less tacked-on than Q did, but doesn’t light up the song like Rapsody either.
  • Your Prime – Hey look, a triplet flow. The instrumental is pretty cool too, with a bit brighter sound than most of the album.
  • Come Down – One of the best hooks on the album, over a jamming instrumental. I especially love the bass line.
  • Silicon Valley – A whole song off of a dumb pun. But its good, so who cares?
  • Celebrate – The kind of pop-friendly soul music that just sounds like a sunny day.
  • The Dreamer – A great finale to the album; Paak does his thing, the backing choir sounds great, the drum beat is perfect, and Talib kills his verse. A solid ending to an incredibly solid album.

Overall: Just a fantastic album from one of 2016’s fastest rising stars. Paak takes what he wants from soul, funk, R&B, hip hop, and even bits of gospel, rock, jazz, and disco to create a cohesive yet diverse and exciting album. The instrumentation is lively and creative, highlited further by the excellent production which focuses each part into a clear contrast from the others without overwhelming the listener. Paak’s vocals are fantastic throughout, as he easily flips from singing to rapping to something in between at will. The only drawback I can see to this album is that Paak’s voice, which is very unique, does rub some people the wrong way. I don’t know how, but its something I’ve heard a few times, so I guess some people just don’t like him. Regardless, this is a great album, and Anderson Paak is an artist to watch in the future.

Score: 8/10

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