Anderson .Paak is a 32 year old rapper, singer, songwriter & producer from Oxnard, California who first came onto the scene under the name Breezy Lovejoy at the beginning of the decade. He released 2 albums in 2012 but then after changing his moniker & releasing Venice in 2014, that’s when he started getting more recognition. He landed a handful of features on my all-time favorite producer Dr. Dre’s 3rd & final album Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre in 2015 as well as forming the duo NxWorries with Knxwledge & signing to Stones Throw Records together that same year. Then to kick off 2016, he dropped one of the best R&B albums of the decade with Malibu & that lead to him officially signing with Dre’s Interscope Records imprint Aftermath Entertainment as a solo act a couple weeks after it’s release. He would then link back up with Knxwledge to put out NxWorries’ debut album Yes Lawd! & now 2 years later, .Paak is delivering his long-awaited major label debut.
The album kicks off with “The Chase”, where .Paak talks about this girl being with him in spirit over a blaxploitation film-inspired instrumental. The next track “Headlow” talks about hanging out with this woman over a smooth instrumental while the song “Tints” sees .Paak teaming up with Kendrick Lamar to talk about fame over an infectious synth-funk instrumental while the track “Who R U?” is is a charismatic challenge to .Paak’s competition over a thunderous instrumental from the Quincy Jones of hip hop himself. Despite the fact that Dr. Dre’s made so much money off the headphones that he really doesn’t really need to be making music anymore, it’s very refreshing to hear him producing again with this joint. The track “6 Summers” gets conscious over a settle instrumental while the song “Saviers Road” tells the story of a drug dealer over a boom bap beat from 9th Wonder with some settle guitar licking. The track “Smile / Petty” is a 2-part odyssey about deceiving women over an instrumental that starts off slow, but then cleverly switches up into something more trunk knocking.
The song “Mansa Musa” vents the frustrations with the music industry today over a suiting instrumental & even though Cocoa Sarai’s verse at the start is just ok, the following verses from Dr. Dre & Anderson .Paak take it out the ballpark. The track “Brother’s Keeper” sees .Paak getting spiritual & Pusha T addressing the current status of Clipse over a guitar & these faint, skittering hi-hats while the song “Anywhere” with Snoop Dogg talks about ghetto love over an infectious funk instrumental. The track “Trippy” with J. Cole sees the 2 talking about how their significant others will always be somewhere in between over a settle instrumental & the song “Cheers” sees Paak paying an endearing tribute to Mac Miller while Q-Tip comforts the mothers of his now deceased friends over a luscious instrumental from Focus… with co-production from both Tip & Dre. The penultimate track “Sweet Chick” talks about hooking up with all kinds of women over some horns & then the closer “Left to Right” is an awkward tropical banger complete with .Paak employing a fake patois.
I’ve been waiting for this album all year & at the end, this is on the same level as Malibu. The personal stories are just as compelling, Anderson .Paak’s versatility is more present than ever & the production is almost more vibrant. We all know how much of a perfectionist Dr. Dre is & that’s resulted in multiple Aftermath artists leaving because of their albums being shelved, but I really think this is gonna give .Paak a lot more of the exposure that he truly deserves.