Ok, this one is special. As Anderson .Paak says himself :
"Just don't forget the dot. ... they slept on me for so long so now they gotta pay attention to everything, y'know? Like, details."
I first heard of Anderson on Dr.Dre's most recent album Compton where he was featured on 6 tracks. One thing that I've learned is to always trust Dre about his ear for talent he decides to push forward ( Snoop, Pac, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar) and Paak is no exception in this special list. He stood out to me not only with his rapping ability but also his unique, raspy and soulful voice. I later delved into his discography to find that he had a number of releases (some as previous alias Breezy Lovejoy) varying from r&b to soul to groovy hip hop to even recent electronic sound. Having started performing as a drummer, he has a keen ear for good production and rhythym, while learning to sing in church helped him develop a unique gospel blend to his voice. Those talents were well demonstrated on his debut album as himself - Venice in 2014 - a laid-back, but bold statement of what he is capable of . At that point I was fully excited about what Anderson might bring out next and counted the days until Malibu dropped.
Malibu starts out with "The Bird", which perfectly sets the stage for what shows to be a record filled with personal experiences. In there Paak talks about his childhood and the moments that inspired him to "follow what the greatest do" despite his rough childhood. His mother was born Korean, moved to the US after being adopted and raised Anderson and his sisters pretty much alone for his father spent most of his childhood in prison. This honesty and realness flows throughout the whole album, especially on the featured track "The Season / Carry me", a two-parter released as the first single for the album, where he talks about the importance of his mother and the struggles he met when providing for his family. Sonically, this track has an unbelievable vibe with a effortless switch-up of the beat between the parts. Following is the jazzy "Put Me Thru" , a track about Anderson's love for pain in relationships which transitions perfectly into "Am I Wrong" (read the Stereofox review here).
As far as production goes, there are some truly big and established names that worked on this album. The mighty Madlib himself produced "The Waters" - a chilled out track about Anderson's rise to fame featuring a soulful chorus by BJ the Chicago Kid. Kaytranada contributes, as usual, with a banger in "Lite Weight", while prolific hip hop producer 9th Wonder puts work on two tracks off Malibu. One of them, "Without You", is actually my favourite song so far because of the unexpected suprise of a Hiatus Kaiyote sample, a favourite band of mine (the sampled track is "Molasses" and it also includes Nai Palm's vocals on the outro). Anderson .Paak himself produced a number of tracks with "Parking Lot" standing out for me, where his sense of rhythym shines trhough.
Standing at 16 tracks long, Malibu really has something for everyone. Channeling the Cali spirit, there are a number of tracks Anderson dedicated to the various ladies in his life. "Room In Here", released as the third single of the album, headlines those with suggestive lyrics flowing over a jazzy beat. Say that you are on a date and looking for something to seal the deal while you are driving her home - this is the one to put on. She will invite you up.
The album finishes on a strong note with the duo of tracks "Celebrate" and "The Dreamer". The first one brings the sunshine as if you are in Malibu itself and can surely brighten up any tough day you may have, while "The Dreamer" sees Anderson .Paak end with a clear message : "Don't stop now, keep dreaming". It's a greatly inspirational track, where he shares his success and points out self-belief as the key factor.
Overall, I can say that Malibu is just a perfect way to start off a new year musically. It is bright, it is personal, it is inspiring, it is sexy, it is funky and it is soulful. Anderson .Paak really brought a new mesh of sound to the table with this one and will surely blow up as a result. I know for a fact that I will be jamming and cruising to Malibu all year long and I hope that with this review I managed to convice you that there is something for your playlist as well. He really is one of those special talented artists with the ear for quality beat and sound from whom you can always expect to bring it.
To celebrate his release, Anderson and his travelling band The Free Nationals will be doing a European tour starting in the beginning of February - more info about the dates and venues on Paak's website. I will be at the gig on 12th of Feb. in Amsterdam so if you are in the vicinity and want to check him out drop a line! Untill then, buy his music and vibe out.
"Yes Lord !"