Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Fresh off the heels of his spotlight-stealing features on Dr. Dre’s Compton and The Game’s The Documentary 2.5, singer/rapper/drummer and all round smooth bastard Anderson .Paak is releasing his second studio album under the alias. Following up 2014’s Venice, can he meet the pandemic hype and expectation for Malibu?
In short, yes. Yes he can. Malibu is one of the most debonair albums your ears will have experienced in years. The instrumentation is so damn soulful and Paak’s voice is basically just aural silk. From smooth R&B bumpers like Heart Don’t Stand a Chance and Silicon Valley (even with its boob-centric lyrics) to upbeat disco/funk jams like Am I Wrong, which could easily be a Jamiroquai song, to jazz-influenced songs like opener The Bird and Water Fall (Interluuube), there’s certainly a range of music on display.
It’s not all just musical though as Paak can tell a story too. The Season/Carry Me is just one example his picture-painting ability:
“Hey, hey, hey, gather ‘round hustlers
That is if you’re still living
And get on down before the judge give the sentence
A few more rounds before the feds come and get you
Is you gon’ smile when your date gets issued
You know them feds taking pictures
Your mom’s in prison, your father need a new kidney
You family’s splitting, rivalries between siblings
If cash ain’t king it’s damn sure the incentive“
There’s also this Thundercat-esque, fat, wompy bass on the Carry Me half of the song and it’s outright disgusting. It’s also on this track that we first encounter Paak’s ability to chop up his delivery through diverse and technical flows. He’s notably adept at both singing and rapping.
Considering the extensive list of producers who worked on this album (e.g. Madlib, Hi-Tek, DJ Khalil, Kaytranada, 9th Wonder and Paak himself), it’s impressive just how cohesive the 16 tracks are. Not only in terms of the overall sound throughout the music but also in the little things like the sample from 1978 Gary Busey classic Big Wednesday heard at the end of The Season/Carry Me. The context of the sample perfectly sets up the following track, Put Me Thru, as it focuses on his affection for a BDSM-style sexual relationship.
As far as guests go, the album thankfully isn’t flooded with them. ScHoolboy Q (Am I Wrong), Rapsody (Without You) and Game (Room on Fire) are the standouts, with Talib Kweli’s glorified-hook-disguised-as-a-verse on closing track The Dreamer being rather underwhelming. With this let down, the first half feeling somewhat stronger than the second, the track Parking Lot which I just cannot get behind, and it arguably feeling a bit lengthy with its 16 tracks/one hour run time, you have the negatives of Malibu. But that’s pretty much it.
All in all, Malibu is a soulful experience on the surface with detailed, personal storytelling at its heart. It sounds nothing like his last album Venice and Paak’s created a unique identity for himself. He’s a versatile artist who has managed to live up to the hype and deliver a really strong album that is absolutely worth your time. Side note, where the hell is the NxWorries record? The people need it.
Favourite Tracks: Heart Don’t Stand A Chance, The Season/Carry Me, Put Me Thru, Am I Wrong, Without You, Come Down, Celebrate