Published Jan 22, 2016Malibu, California might be defined by shorelines and sunshine, but where's there's light, there's always a shadow. For 29-year-old Oxnard artist Anderson .Paak, his debut album, Malibu, reflects the ups and downs of life in Southern California; it's a multi-layered LP that finds .Paak both accepting conflict as a regular occurrence and celebrating the blessings in disguise that come with hard living.
After captivating the music industry in 2014 with the release of his Venice EP, and again on Dr. Dre's Compton LP with his raspy voice and warm melodies, .Paak floats seamlessly between rapper and singer on Malibu, two roles that intersect throughout the 16-song LP. Soulful melodies lead the way through love ballad "Without You" and "Heart Don't Stand a Chance," while boisterous rhyming carries "Am I Wrong," a disco-infused cut featuring Schoolboy Q, and the staggering "Your Prime." With production from fellow Oxnard native Madlib, "The Waters" evokes J. Dilla's timeless production, while .Paak's self-produced "Celebrate" recalls the best '70s funk-soul music.
Lyrically, we get a glimpse at the shadows that follow .Paak throughout Malibu, especially on troubling intro "The Bird." The song transports listeners to a childhood affected by an incarcerated biological father and his mother's gambling addiction. .Paak calls out for his mother on the heartbreaking stand-out single "The Season / Carry Me," then finds strength again by Malibu's closing cut "The Dreamer," spitting "My job as an artist is making miracles / To show you how to struggle poetic and make it lyrical."
A rose from concrete, Malibu offers a sense of wonder that's carefully rooted in funk and soul, and presents a complete vision from a blossoming new artist that's not only fearless, but leading something of a sonic revolution. (Steel Wool/OBE/Art Club/EMPIRE)