Album Review: Anderson .Paak – Malibu

The first time I gave Anderson .Paak’s Malibu a listen I wasn’t satisfied. I didn’t hear the same genre-bending music that was found on his previous album Venice and although that album wasn’t without faults, its versatility was something worth building upon. Malibu seemed almost to focused with its funky, soulful R&B groove and not much on exploring new musical realms.

It wasn’t until my second listen that I finally began to appreciate it. Malibu did in fact incorporate multiple genres including different aspects of R&B, inspired by 60’s soul, 70’s club groove, 90’s boom-bap as well as today’s indie-electronic scene. His versatility is astounding. Sonically the sixteen track album beautifully flows together and is quite pleasing to the ears. There are tracks I instantly gravitated towards – tracks 3 through 10 have manifested as a pre-game ritual, culminating in the celebratory track ‘The Dreamer’.

As he told Consequence of Sound, Anderson went through many trials in his life to get to the point where he is now. Both of his parents were in jail, he was homeless and just starting a family, with his wife and newborn son. Through these experiences and his undeterred conviction to earn a living as a musician, he developed a genuine connection with the emotions portrayed in his music. Such heart is undeniable in his vocals found on Malibu, as well as Dr. Dre’s Compton. Additionally, Anderson’s skills as a multi-instrumentalist (he’s also a member of The Free Nationals) are evident throughout the album leading to the unique instrumental breakdowns heard on tracks like “Parking Lot” and “Lite Weight.”

Malibu, is a reflection of his growth as a musician and success as a performer. He chose to focus his efforts on R&B and Soul, resulting in a more polished tracklist that feels like a performance rather than a studio recording. Malibu is not just a one man show, he is joined by Rapsody on the sensual “Without You,” SchoolBoy Q on album standout “Am I Wrong.” Other features include fellow California emcee The Game on “Room In Here,” Talib Kweli on “The Dreamer” and Soulful singer BJ The Chicago Kid on “The Waters.” These well placed features are quite refreshing giving the listener a break from Paak’s voice by providing another tone perfectly complimenting the various sounds found on the album.

Anderson .Paak delivers a record that has longevity and showcases his virtuous songwriting in every track. It’s a pleasure to discover that Venice represented Anderson’s ambition and curiosity while Malibu represents his maturity and new-found success. Anderson .Paak is here to stay.

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