by Brian Kearny
“I learned my lessons from the ancient roots, I choose to follow what the greatest do.”
Anderson .Paak claims that “the dot in my name stands for detail” and his second studio album, Malibu, is certainly full of details. On a lyrical note, .Paak uses his gruff, soulful voice to tell his story of living in California as “a product of the tube and the free lunch” painting an acid-soaked portrait of a bohemian-gangster virtuoso who never wants to stop dreaming. Musically, he creates a soundscape that is rife with unique production and inflection of several types of genres. To categorize this as a hip-hop album would be a disservice to the amount of creativity and detail that went into every song. This album is bigger than a specific classification, it’s very hard to put a finger on; yet always keeps a toe-tapping.
Paak grew up in a multi-ethnic family in California and has certainly been able to soak up more than sunshine in his thirty years. He was homeless in 2011 after losing his job at a marijuana farm and was able to use his musical background to get his family off the streets and eventually become a centerpiece on Dr. Dre’s 2015 release, Compton. Once again, Dr. Dre has helped curate another bright star to the hip-hop scene (see N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar to name a few…). If .Paak continues to put this much detail and thought into all his work he too will transcend rap music and become bigger then the genre itself.
Malibu features production work by several conscious-rap producers such as Hi-Tek, 9th Wonder, Madlib, as well as production by .Paak himself and certainly seems influenced by fellow California visionary, Kendrick Lamar’s latest opus To Pimp a Butterfly. There is a serious jazz influence on this recording that Paak fluidly intertwines with elements of funk, rap, and neo-soul to make a very complete and thorough listen. The album deserves to be played from start to finish and although some tracks stand out more than others, the record as a whole is another win for the next era of G-Funk.