MALIBU by Anderson .Paak
Genre: Neo-Soul, Alternative R&B
Favorite Tracks: “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance,” “Am I Wrong (featuring Schoolboy Q),” “Without You (featuring Rapsody),” “Come Down,” “Silicon Valley”
Anderson .Paak has been a relatively underrated producer in the LA scene for the past several years (in that only now are non-die-hard fans really hearing about his stuff), working with Knxwledge on the LINK UP & SUEDE EP that came out last year, and more notably being featured on six tracks of Dr. Dre’s COMPTON, one of which was intended for MALIBU. By now, it’s no surprise that MALIBU has gained notoriety. Although he hasn’t become a household name yet and is not necessarily an up-and-coming producer anymore, .Paak’s work is impressive. He’s obviously a talented producer, but MALIBU is reaching for something more than what it delivers.
MALIBU is a very conflicting listen. It’s an album to be aware of, but beyond that its lasting value just comes down to personal taste; whatever you feel good driving around to, at best. Maybe it’s the hype, the comparisons to Kendrick, or just the need to live up to 2014’s VENICE, but MALIBU just barely fails to hold up. It may be an enjoyable LP, but it doesn’t stand out as anything impressive. It doesn’t feel as important of an album as it’s been made out to be. MALIBU in all honesty sounds like a collection of the rest of the tracks that didn’t make it onto COMPTON or at the very least are poor attempts to amend TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY’s statement. It fails to go beyond the neo-soul-funk field and the sounds of Blood Orange, The Internet, and Frank Ocean that preceded it; you might as well listen to one of them to get a better experience of what .Paak was going for.
Even VENICE had a unique style, and despite having its own drawbacks, could coherently tell a story and capture one’s attention. MALIBU, on the other hand, gives off the feeling that .Paak heard music he thought was cool but lacked the ability to go beyond that aesthetic and create something substantial. Even by the fifth track, the record’s sound is completely laid out, allowing itself to repeat for the remaining duration of the 16-track LP.
I must admit, there are moments where this record kills it, but this is usually because an outside artist is featured, such as on “Without You,” which utilizes Rapsody and a sample of Hiatus Kaiyote’s “Molasses”. And occasionally, .Paak captures a more genuine essence similar to VENICE, especially on “The Season | Carry Me” and “Silicon Valley.” But sitting through an hour of radio-heady aestheticized hip hop becomes a chore, even if those diamonds in the rough are worth a listen.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend