I, like most people, was introduced to Anderson .Paak on Dr. Dre’s Compton last summer. I had not heard of the singer-songwriter/rapper before that album and was very impressed with what he delivered on his various guest spots. This is the main reason I decided I would check out his new album. I was curious to see if he would be able to carry an entire album on his own. I had fairly high expectations once I saw that rappers such as The Game, ScHoolboy Q, and Talib Kweli would be featured on Malibu. It was clearly many people in the music industry had faith in .Paak, meaning this could be the album that allows him to crossover into the mainstream to a certain extent.
The first comparison I could think of when I finished listening to Malibu was to Miguel’s last album Wildheart. This is a pretty obvious comparison considering how much this album screams Southern California. It just has a sound that feels very summery, which has made the cold winter I have been experiencing feel nicer. Anderson .Paak’s vocals definitely differ from other R&B artists working right now, which could turn some listeners off. His delivery is not as clean and has a bit of grit to it. While I know it won’t be for everyone, I found it to add life and personality to his music. Paak also was always able to maintain a good level of energy to many of the tracks on this album.
What probably surprised me the most here was the quality of the production on this album. With producer credits going to people like Madlib, 9th Wonder, and even .Paak himself it is not surprising that the beats and instrumentations that appeared on this record were consistently great. This helped the album have that very professional sound that I hope will help people take .Paak and his work more seriously.
The lyrics are what make this album a bit inconsistent for me. I do think there are many moments of greatness here, mostly on the first half though. Songs like “The Bird,” “The Season/Carry Me,” and the closing track “The Dreamer” are great because of how they are able to take .Paak’s childhood and experiences growing up and use them to help the listener become invested in him as a person. This also comes through on tracks like “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” and “Without You” which work as genuinely sweet love songs.
This is why I was disappointed by some tracks that go against this seemingly honest and personal portrait that .Paak was going for. Songs like “Your Prime” and “Silicon Valley” which are more juvenile than others and stick out because of that. While .Paak is still able to save tracks like these from being awful with his energetic delivery, they definitely do bring the album down.
I feel like this album would be much cleaner and play better if a few of these tracks were cut out. Given the fact that there is about an hour of content here and 16 tracks there are plenty of places this record could have been trimmed down to make it feel less bloated. This would have also helped the quality and themes of this album to be more consistent then they currently are.
Despite these gripes, I was still very impressed with what Anderson .Paak was able to deliver on his own and hope that his next release builds off of what he was able to do here. This is a great introduction to .Paak for anyone who enjoyed his work on Compton and will probably be liked by fans of artists like Miguel who have a similar style. Considering that Dr. Dre has already noticed him, it will not be long until people start seeing Anderson .Paak’s name around more and more as I am sure he will continue to be featured on many projects. This is definitely an artist we will be hearing from again, and I am more than alright with that.