The Dose: How Anderson .Paak dominated 2016

The Dose: How Anderson .Paak dominated 2016

The Dose: How Anderson .Paak dominated 2016
January 02
14:52 2017

2016 was more than a breakout year for the artist known as Anderson .Paak. Most hip-hop fanatics, including myself, were overwhelmed by his impact at some point or another last year.

Whether it was one of his two albums, or his onslaught of features from nearly every prominent project released, you’ve heard of this man by now. Hopefully, we’ll hear plenty more of him in 2017.

I first heard Anderson on Dr. Dre’s “Compton” when he said, “These old sneakers, faded blue jeans.” His voice immediately struck me like one of those wooden piñata bats meant to bring joy. And the amazing thing is, I have that same feeling every time I hear him croon.

He’s perfect for features because of his incredible ability to utilize his charisma in any way required. For instance, on Dre’s song “Animals,” Anderson captures listeners and shoves them right into the middle of systemic racism. In fact, he even says, “Please don’t come around these parts and tell me that we all,” referring to minorities, “[are] a bunch of animals.”

He also does this on A Tribe Called Quest’s latest album, where the track “Movin’ Backwards” is a politically charged anthem with a softer alternative to the heavy rapping of Phife, Q-Tip and company. He is also featured on Schoolboy Q’s wonderful “Blank Face” LP.

Basically, he’s been on tons of features recently and if you want to hear more, go to his Spotify page and check out his discography.

As for his first album, “Malibu,” I initially heard it sometime between last February and May, and I did not even get through three songs because, at that time, I just didn’t care for it.

Fortunately, my roommate talked to me about it, and sports journalist Bomani Jones even mentioned how great it was on his radio show. Therefore, I had to give it another shot.

At about 1 or 2 a.m. in my dorm, I queued up “Malibu” one more time and my music life transformed. I still can’t stop listening to it to this day.

There’s not a single throwaway track on “Malibu,” and it became a formative album for me that, quite frankly, changed my entire perspective on hip hop. Not everything needed to blow me away with crazy bars and melodic beats. Just give me smooth instrumentation with Anderson’s singing and I’ll be just fine.

You can do anything to “Malibu,” whether it’s dancing, kicking back or just putting it on as background music to help get through your day. I’ve done all three, and I even sleep to it occasionally.

Anderson’s other album was “Yes Lawd!” by NxWorries, which is a duo featuring .Paak as the vocalist and Knxwledge as the producer. I’ve given this album about a dozen listens and I really enjoy it, but it’s different from most of .Paak’s solo work.

Knxwledge showcased his impressive production skills and I commend him for his involvement because the overall sound is crisp and finely tuned. Throughout the album, Anderson is rapping more as he once again shows his artistic versatility. This is likely due to Knxwledge handing him beats with much less smoothness and substantially more alternative grit.

I have not found an overall narrative for this project and that’s fine, as I’m all for great beats and good rapping, especially from NxWorries. There are individual stories for each song, and most of them are fairly short so you can listen to several and just vibe to them. He even has a few tracks showcasing his humor, like “H.A.N.” and “Fkku.”

Unlike most modern R&B music, “Yes Lawd!” doesn’t evoke an early 2000s sound, which I mean in the best way possible. Instead, it feels very ’90s, exemplified by songs like “Scared Money,” “Another Time” and “Starlite.”

I do think 19 tracks for any album is a tad excessive, but who am I to tell .Paak he’s doing too much work?

“Yes Lawd!” is a strong contrast to “Malibu,” which is awesome because 19 more “Malibu” tracks would have been overkill.

In today’s hip hop, where Soundcloud rappers often become overnight successes, diversity is such a valuable trait. The more layers, the better and Anderson is like that onion that doesn’t make people cry. Actually, I’ve almost cried listening to him before because he’s just that good.

In spite of political turmoil and celebrity tragedies, 2016 belonged to .Paak, who is currently nominated for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. I hope you are familiar with him already or plan to be, because if he can make me type hundreds of words at 4 a.m., just imagine what he can do for you. Once again, he’s just that good.

Featured Image: Anderson .Paak performing at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in July, 2016. | Kadeem Ellis

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Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

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