Released in 2016, Malibu is the 2nd studio album by Anderson .Paak, who’s works were all great candidates for this month’s theme considering all 4 of his studio albums, Venice, Malibu, Oxnard, and Ventura are named after towns that meant something to .Paak. Malibu was my choice out of the four because, for a number of reasons, Malibu is the one I find myself coming back to again and again the most often. In fact, Malibu has grown into a bit a comfort pick for me and, if I had to guess, I would say that Malibu is my most listened to full album of this semester. So yeah, I’m biased, but it’s too late to turn back on this thing now, so let’s talk about Anderson .Paak’s Malibu.
If you’ve followed my public statements about music closely enough to have listened to the episode of Scrambled Legs where a number of my friends and I had a discussion about the best albums of the 2010’s, Malibu might be ringing a bell for you. Yes, my dear friend and former teammate Dominic Dimambro (who knows far more about music than I do) brought Malibu into the discussion, particularly because it meant a lot to him, personally. At that point, I was familiar with Anderson .Paak, but hadn’t taken the deep dive into his music yet. That summer I listened to Malibu for the first time on a long car ride, and I texted Dom with a screenshot of the opening track ‘The Bird” saying I was finally going to listen to it start to finish. Dom texted me back excitedly, and while I don’t remember what his message said verbatim, I distinctly recall him describing the album as “Yummy”. How right he was.
For barely over an hour Anderson .Paak gracefully dances from genre to genre, giving every track a healthy dose of his own irresistible style, energy, and passion. Malibu is so deliciously groovy and easy to listen to but I think the real reason I keep coming back is that .Paak infuses the whole album with more than enough substance to go with its style, a genuinely difficult thing to do with any artform. Inspired by the surfer culture idea that you can’t force a wave to come, you can only ride it when it comes, and when it does you’d better appreciate it while you’re on it, .Paak supplies the listener with one hell of an auditory wave. A man with a deep love and appreciation for music and a background of playing gospel songs in his church, Anderson .Paak keeps the entire album fresh with a variety of styles that somehow all maintain a consistent enough feeling that links them all together as a cohesive project. Playing with Gospel, hip-hop, soul and R&B, .Paak makes one think of one Miss Lauryn Hill in her prime while maintaining his own distinct and original sound.
While the music is built around an irresistible and effortless groove, lyrically .Paak talks about some not so groovy things. Writing about his mother going to prison and the struggles of his youth, the solace he found in music and devout faith, break-ups and romance, and plenty of other things in-between, .Paak goes deeper than just style and really gives his listeners something to chew on. Despite that lyrical depth and impressive vocal ability, the biggest strength of .Paak is his mastery and incredible rhythmic and musical understanding. Malibu is so well produced, fun to listen to, and, and Dom said, Yummy. Anderson .Paak’s instrumentals win this album, but going even deeper, the rhythm section wins this album. The bass and drumline are about the best you could ask for out of a project like this. I know I’m biased toward bass and drums, but damn, they’re just too good here.
For the sake of not rambling and conserving your time, I’m going to wrap it up here. Anderson .Paak’s Malibu probably isn’t a record for everyone, but I have a feeling that it is the type of album that most people can enjoy at least a little. Any time you can feel an artist’s love and passion in their music, I’m all about it, and Anderson .Paak’s work is dripping with it. Front to back a total delight, an absolute delight for your ears, and an endlessly reslistenable record, Malibu is a great addition to this month’s Musical Training Plan, and I’ll fight you on that.
I would go as far as to say that I love this record, and maybe someday you will too. Without further ado though, here it is. Anderson .Paak’s Malibu.
It is safe to assume that if she can’t dance, she can’t hoop. I’m hanging around California for a while to try to find a girl who can hoop, but I’ve got a feeling that on tomorrow’s record I’ll find something else. Until then, Benny the Jet is sliding out of here.