It’s been three years since Anderson .Paak burst forth with his brilliant Breezy Lovejoy album.
What struck first was of course that voice – the thick layers of it, that incredible soulful rasp with fragments of Prince, Ben Harper and some female R&B megastar no-one could place. The kind of voice that sounds as powerful as Aretha and as busted as Tom Waits at the same time. The album was poppy but really unusual and striking nevertheless, the production had an epic undaunted pace and vibe. Shit was joyous.
Fast Forward to 2015. After six tracks on production for some guy called Dr Dre, .Paak joined forces with the mighty Stonesthrow.
Peanut Butter Wolf or whoever picks partnerships at Stonesthrow is a genius at it and probably decided to combine fish & chips, Davis & Macero. They unleashed NX Worries. Juxtaposing the blurred, loping SP production style of Knxwledge against Paak’s vibrancy was a miracle of wonky balance like a giraffe calf.
2106 is upon us and it’s time for a third solo outing from .Paak entitled ‘Malibu‘
It sits closer to Breezy than to NX Worries but perhaps his brush with Knxwledge and that more lo-fi aesthetic has added a greater texture to the production, further swerving it away from the kind of cleanness that taints much ‘popular’ R&B.
Throughout he’s singing and rapping but it’s hard to tell, everything sounds sung and that’s a compliment.
‘Malibu’ is a remarkably cohesive album despite the different styles and the large numbers of production styles on duty which range from the imperious G-Funk of Madlib’s ‘The Waters’ to Pomo’s lazer funk work out ‘Am I Wrong’. There are joints with live licks in a Kendrick vibe. There are tunes that have a hint of Lenny Kravitz, some that smell of the 80’s in a way I can’t quite put a finger on, Billy Joel maybe, a few tracks hint at N.E.R.D. or maybe Dwele? Huge props to Anderson for being able to evoke so many other singers you know and love but still sound utterly and uniquely like the Universe’s first and last Anderson .Paak.