The saying goes, “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue,” and very rarely does one get all of that and more in a single package, much less a single album. But here I am, in the living room of my West Philadelphia apartment, receiving a gift fit for someone entering a long term commitment. And I suppose I am, in some ways, committing to this music. This album is loving me back or, at least, I like to think it is. Whether it’s the way he marries lighthearted pimpin’ with a coarse, sultry tenor, or the funky bass riddled boom bap that has become a hallmark of his brand of hip hop, it’s safe to say that Anderson .Paak is making his own lane in an industry that has become altogether cut-and-paste.
If Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is the album that urged hip hop back to its jazz and soul roots, then Malibu is the album to solidify this new era with an unmatched accessibility. The culprit’s name is Anderson .Paak, formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy, who is often cited as the grooviest man in the room. Malibu has dropped after a year marked by a relentless campaign of releases and collaborations with the likes of Knxwledge, Tokimonsta, and most notably Dr. Dre. His prominence on Compton, from tracks like “Animals” and “All In A Day’s Work”, brought him a considerable amount of attention and set the stage for a breakout release in this most recent LP.
On Malibu, .Paak delivers a unique mix of grit and longing in his vocals that helps elevate the album from fitting neatly into a single genre. The matrimony of singing and rapping intertwined with incredibly refreshing production from the likes of 9th Wonder, Madlib, Hi-Tek, and many others creates a soundscape that travels back and forth in time without missing a beat. On the tracks “Am I Wrong” featuring Schoolboy Q, and Lightweight, we find ourselves in a disco laden groove with .Paak giving us his best McFadden & Whitehead impression. On the slower, more sensual cuts (i.e. The Waters, Room In Here ft. The Game, and Waterfall), we receive an irresistibly smooth, sly voice that’s convincing us to stay for awhile. But what is most distinct about this album is the mastery of Anderson’s cadence–the shift from rapid fire rhyming to swaying phrases to all out singing creates textures that are a delight for anyone with an open mind and a love of hip hop.
2016 is already on pace to be a phenomenal year in music. Malibu is out of the gate bright and early, on bended knee, asking for your affection, if only for the moments until another album whisks you away on another love affair. But that’s just it–it doesn’t take much convincing when the music loves you back. RE
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