“My uncles had to pay the cost … / my momma caught the gambling bug … / my papa was behind them bars” sings the LA-bred Anderson .Paak on “The Bird,” the opening track to his most introspective and musically complete project yet. “Malibu” features 16 tracks well-tailored to Paak’s seductively stirring vocals, a more palatable contrast to the promising, but at times ill-fitting tracks featured on his debut venture, “Venice” (yes, there’s a theme here). On his sophomore release, Paak has progressed. There is a newfound raspiness blended with his choir-bred soul as he successfully straddles the line between thought-provoking lyricism and a care-free sound. As a producer, Paak’s musical arrangements prove complex, yet their progressions are crisp. And his voice remains provocatively suave enough to make the word “bitch,” sound like a term of endearment.
If there is one track on “Malibu” that manages to coalesce the many special elements of this rapper/singer/producer/songwriter’s artistry, that noble title would be given to the aforementioned opener. “The Bird” leads with a slick guitar lick reminiscent of a number off of D’Angelo’s “Black Messiah” before layers of deep bass grooves — a signature sound Paak clearly has come to love — dreamy guitar chords, harmonizing vocals, soothing trumpets and caroling piano melodies pile upon each other. Though, as we’ve come to expect with Paak, it all comes together fabulously smooth.
Thanks to new, innovative outfits, the LA soul/hip-hop scene has finally reemerged and with his soothing, soulful sound, lyrical prowess and uncompromising ingenuity, Paak — the self-proclaimed leader of the “boom-bap” movement — is prepared to take the city to church.
Favorite tracks: “Room in Here” (feat. The Game and Sonyae Elise), “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance,” “Your Prime”
Least favorite: “Celebrate”