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Soul’s New Grandchild, Anderson .Paak

Singer-rapper takes road less traveled on ‘Malibu’ LP

Jackson Croy, Staff Reporter
Originally published January 29, 2016

Album: Malibu

Artist: Anderson .Paak

Score: ★ ★ ★

Singer-rapper Anderson .Paak released his second full-length studio LP, “Malibu” after two years of stunning features and singles that brought him to the tip-top of modern soul and R&B.

Since the release of “Venice” in 2014, .Paak has redefined his sound on the backs of hip-hop musicians such as Dr. Dre and in collaborations with Stones Throw beat head Knxwledge and producer 9th Wonder, as well as others. He re-enters the scene as a solo artist in a blaze of gritty, soulful glory.

The crisp, clean-cut sound of Anderson .Paak’s voice graces the jazz-centered instrumental flavors of this album in a way that will evoke jealousy in singers everywhere. Influences from five decades of rhythm and blues and two decades of hip hop music show through on this album, contrary to conjecture, few of which are sampled.

Instrumentals on this album feature a real band that plays everything from funk to soul to hip-hop under .Paak’s wide, vintage-sounding harmonies and lead vocals. Accredited with the sample-based production are hip hop producers Callum Connor, 9th Wonder, Madlib and .Paak himself.

The album fails, however, to bring consistently original lyrics and chords, but the refreshing stylistic choices make up for the downsides by a landslide. .Paak brings new, modernized material to soul as a genre. Even if Frank Ocean won’t drop his new album, Anderson .Paak is more than what we could ask for in return.

With soulful, jazzy licks and driving yet relaxed funk-fusion production, this incredibly accessible album is for anyone who wants similar material to Jhene Aiko, Frank Ocean, The Internet, D’angelo, or who just wants some forward-thinking soul filling their headphones from all sides.

Notable tracks:

“The Season/Carry Me” (prod. 9th Wonder and Callum Connor) — A booming sub bass and gospel-esque harmonies in 9th Wonder’s “The Season” give way to straight, digital drums and choppy guitar samples layered with Paak’s most soulful vocals on the album in Callum Connor’s “Carry Me.”

“The Bird” (prod. Anderson .Paak) ­­— This bluesy soul jam could have been written by Bill Withers or Gil Scott-Heron 40 years ago. The track is vintage all around, in the mix, in the lyrics, in the melodies. It sounds like it came directly from its true home on a two-inch tape.

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Soul’s New Grandchild, Anderson .Paak