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Up-and-coming artist releases latest album ‘Malibu’

By Emma Kahn

Section: Arts

February 5, 2016

Anderson Paak might not be a familiar name to most, but the release last month of his new album, “Malibu,” has surely piqued interest in the music crowd. Paak emerged to fame most prominently with the release of “Compton” by Dr. Dre, in which Anderson Paak is featured in six out of 16 tracks. Now with his Jan. 15 “Malibu” release, he boasts a full album with his own featured artists such as Rapsody, ScHoolboy Q and The Game, among other high-profile musicians. His album blends the best of a new generation of lyrically mindful rappers with a light and soulful yet classic style. Despite being in the music industry for roughly a decade, Anderson Paak’s name is just getting out following “Malibu’s” release. Lately, Paak resembles an up-and-coming artist, featured by Rolling Stone who described him with beautiful precision as “a dreamer and a romantic who blends hip-hop, R&B, rock and soul into a funky world all his own.” After an interview with NPR, host Scott Simon acutely labeled his music as “a kaleidoscopic mix of ’60s funk, ’70s soul, hip-hop, R&B, electronic music and rock ’n’ roll.”

“Malibu” contains the gritty rap style of Kendrick Lamar, the funk and soul of Bruno Mars and hints of vocal talent reminiscent of Frank Ocean. Each track varies greatly in particular flare and lyrical content, and the album as a whole is an eclectic collage, piecing together dense and carefree subject matter with mellow beats that scream west California. He even sprinkles some surfing dialogue into his tracks. Although he doesn’t surf, he does identify with the surfing vibe, recounting to The Rolling Stone, “I just see myself as one of those surfers, riding that wave, carving out. And the ocean’s big enough for everybody.”

Littered with a multitude of musical styles such as jazz piano excerpts and samples from a family choir, Paak has identified himself as an artist boasting unorthodox arrangements. He is inspired by a host of life experiences, including his challenges with a biracial upbringing, homelessness and loss of a job, amid a slew of other difficulties. Such dynamic experiences come across fluidly in his lyrics. He is the voice of the underdog, outlier and the social outcast. The complexity with which he entered into a music career, combined with the challenges of his youth, refuses to dampen his cheerful and optimistic sound, bringing positivity to the most tragic verses. “Malibu” is his most personal and vulnerable project yet, speaking to his deepest concentrations, worries and hopes.

As for musical style, he expresses attachment to the black gospel choir sound in several interviews alluding to the first time he attended Baptist Church, urged by his sister to check out the choir and the church band. He incorporates many soul and R&B instruments and styles into his music, preferring a rougher, uneven beat to a precise style of rhythm. As a producer and musician, Anderson Paak promotes the boom-bap sound and expresses in interviews the dismaying lack of artists and producers interested in boom-bap production, a style self-reflexively titled for its onomatopoeic chopped percussion sound. The combination of influences present in “Malibu” blend together into a lighthearted and carefree sound very rare in new album production today. It’s no wonder Anderson Paak has such an ear for production style, as he worked to produce many high-profile yet innovative albums, including Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Not only does Anderson Paak provide a lyrically and instrumentally complex and interwoven album, but his verses prove dynamic and enticing as well. His cheeky jokes and colorful attitude serve well when listening to serious subject matter, such as in his track “Carry Me,” and his gritty voice contrasts well with his sexy lyrics, such as in “Room in Here.” Much of the beauty of his music comes from simple contrasts such as these, paired with a willingness to experiment and blend. This album proves that Anderson Paak is truly capable of transcending all genres and all limitations.

“Malibu” is an album for easy listening and can be enjoyed with much versatility. Each track suits itself to any activity, whether that be strolling through campus, studying in the library, working out in the gym or just relaxing. Anderson Paak is the perfect example of when lifestyle and art become interchangeable. His fans can expect to see him in the spotlight soon, set to perform at various music festivals this year. Proving himself an emergent musical talent in 2015, Anderson Paak is sure to be reaching headlines throughout this new year, starting strong with his release of “Malibu,” now available on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes and Pandora.

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