Hey, it’s been a while.
Back when I first heard him on ‘Ink Don’t Bleed’ by Watsky in 2014 I took notice of Paak’s unique voice but hadn’t thought I’d be listening to his solo stuff a few years later. But here we are and I’m listening to Malibu and loving it. He’s got a unique take on rap, and the more I listen to him, the more I’m finding songs I like turn into songs I love.
My radar started to blip last year when I heard ‘Luh You’ from his first album Venice. Upbeat and ridiculously catchy, it became a favourite of mine very quickly, but I was lazy and didn’t follow it up by checking out the whole album. I made a half-hearted attempt and listened to Milk n Honey, but it was such a contrast to ‘Luh You’ that I assumed that ‘Luh You’ was a one off that Paak was using to draw in listeners. Then, in summer last year, Dr Dre dropped his album to accompany Straight Outta Compton (my one sentence review is that the first half is great and you should definitely check it out, but the second half is very forgettable.) Anyway, back to Paak. He ‘featured’ on one of my favourite tracks of the year: Dr Dre’s ‘All In A Day’s Work’. He doesn’t exactly take a lead role in the song, but when I think about it he’s the voice I hear. You could almost say he does back vocals on the track, but he’s got this kind of frantic energy which just works, especially within the songs context.
Even after that it took me a few months, but eventually I sat down and listened to Malibu start to finish. I wasn’t singing its praises after the first run-through. That’s not to say that I disliked it, but sometimes you get 30 seconds into a new album and you know you’ve hit gold. Some albums you need to give time. Malibu was one of those for me. I had this weird feeling: I didn’t really like it yet, but I sort of knew that it was worth giving a chance, and I knew I was gonna like it.
I listened to Malibu more and more, finding more and more that I loved about it. My favourite songs were surpassed by others, and then they fell short of even better songs. I started to notice small stuff. Like on Celebrate, for example. I’ve tried looking it up and can’t find confirmation, but the backing vocals sounded an awful lot like John Mayer… I love it when two very separate artists that you like make music together. Like when you find out that two of your friends somehow know each other. I’m probably just hearing what I want to hear but you go. I think the track that really hooked me on the album was Lite Weight. Not even because of the lyrics or anything technical. It’s simple, repetitive and reserved. But I just couldn’t help bobbing along. From there, the list of tracks I loved exploded. Celebrate, Silicon Valley, The Dreamer. I could go on but I honestly would end up listing most of the album.
I probably could go on, but just go and listen to the album. Rap can be a pretty jarring genre sometimes, but Paak makes it much more accessible. In any case, it’s just great because it’s such a different type of rap album. I mean, there was even time at the end of ‘Am I Wrong’ where I could’ve been listening to Jamiroquai. Paak has produced a very refreshing rap album that’s definitely worth your time.