Showing posts with label anderson .paak. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anderson .paak. Show all posts

Monday, April 15, 2019

video review: 'ventura' by anderson .paak

Well this was... honestly a little underwhelming, but given how many listens I gave it, I really don't hope this is one that grows on me tremendously when I'm a little healthier (yeah, I've been ill all weekend, it happens :( ). 

Next up, looks to be a more interesting week of Billboard BREAKDOWN than I expected as we get a slightly slower schedule - stay tuned!

album review: 'ventura' by anderson .paak

Admit it: if you're an Anderson .Paak fan, you're not surprised by this release.

But before we go further, let's talk a little further about the aftermath of Oxnard, his release late last year that I still think is good... but was a disappointment, not on the same tier as Malibu or Yes Lawd! or even Venice if we're being honest. Instead of taking the strengths of Anderson .Paak - a phenomenal performer and a pretty good songwriter with buckets of charisma - and pairing them to the loose, eclectic production that made him a star, he was given a bunch of highly synthetic, regimented grooves that had nothing close to the organic warmth and texture that made Malibu so striking, and the writing hadn't exactly evolved along the way. And while the album got some critical acclaim from a few people, it was not the shot into the mainstream that you'd expect from the big expensive marketing push he received, and many people were quick to point out the project had more of Dr. Dre's fingertips in its sound than what had previously worked. And on one hand, I could see that working - after all, I might be alone in saying that it worked on the 2015 Compton album, but I still hold that project as one of the best of that year - but Anderson .Paak had evolved considerably and trying to place him in Dre's comfort zone smacked of real mismanagement. 

So I expected the course correction - maybe a mixtape, maybe something loose and thrown together to placate the diehard fans and maybe win over the few people who loved Oxnard - but what I didn't expect was it coming so fast! Nor did I expect the pedigree of acts behind him: Smokey Robinson, Jazmine Sullivan, Brandy, a sample of the late Nate Dogg, and even Andre 3000 - who frankly seems like a natural partner for Anderson .Paak given the broad similarities in their style, certainly more than Dre. And I'll be honest, I'm stunned the label threw this kind of money for a course correction - getting these samples and guests do not come cheap, especially if there was to live instrumentation - because that takes a keen executive to recognize something has been mishandled by them and they need to give the artist space to make it work. That takes a level of self-awareness I did not think that Dre had, but enough wasting time: what did we get on Ventura?

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

video review: 'oxnard' by anderson .paak

So yeah, I do wish this was a lot better - but eh, it happens. Let's hope we get a course correction soon.

Next up, something where the course correction is never going to happen...

Monday, November 19, 2018

album review: 'oxnard' by anderson .paak

Man, expectations were high for this one, weren't they?

And indeed, it's been a bit amusing seeing the fallout from the early reviews of Oxnard come through - a lot of critics had seen tremendous potential and had gotten captivated by Anderson .Paak's infectious charisma and blend of genres, and I'll admit at first, I was definitely one of them. Venice had primed the pump, .Paak had stolen the show on Dr. Dre's Compton album, and following in that wake with some terrific guest performances, I was ready for my mind to be blown with the textured smash that was Malibu, easily one of the best albums of 2016. But I was also kind of lukewarm on his work with Knxwledge on their collaboration that same year, Yes Lawd!, because it exposed just how Anderson .Paak's charisma couldn't save fragmented songs, undercooked ideas, and a sleaziness that could get actively distracting if mishandled. So I was more cautious going into Oxnard - the guest performances looked promising and I had liked what I heard from the singles, but reception has been lukewarm thus far and I was a little surprised that Dr. Dre seemed to have stepped up his production oversight - I guess he wanted to ensure Anderson .Paak finally became the household name he deserves to be and I liked their balance on Compton, but would it work here for Oxnard?

Friday, October 28, 2016

video review: 'yes lawd!' by nxworries (anderson .paak & knxwledge)

This review took me a lot longer than I had expected - I've probably listened to the record a dozen times, but it just took a while to really come to any concrete opinion... just one of those things, I guess.

Beyond that, I've got the Jimmy Eat World review on deck, so stay tuned!

album review: 'yes lawd!' by nxworries (anderson .paak & knxwledge)

So I think I've gone on record a number of times by this point how 2016 has been a bit of a dud in terms of popular music, especially hip-hop, showcasing established MCs underperform and a whole load of talentlessness get recognized for no damn good reason. But I think what's made this all the more frustrating is that, well, it didn't have to be this way - it could have been more than just Chance The Rapper who has carried the torch from the underground with real quality, and the lack of recognition for mainstream-ready rappers and performers has been as frustrating if not more so.

And if you want the primary example of that, it's Anderson .Paak. Oh, the critics absolutely adored his early 2016 release Malibu - myself included, that record rules - but it was a summer album released in mid-January, and that probably prevented his music from crossing over more. Because make no mistake, if we can give Lil Yachty, Desiigner, Lil Uzi Vert, and Young Thug careers, Anderson .Paak's material was not so inaccessible that it couldn't do well, especially given how damn catchy and charismatic it was.

But despite making the XXL Freshman list and a few critically acclaimed guest appearances on other albums, it didn't really seem like he was interested playing the game. Instead, he went over to the independent label Stones Throw - most well-known for backing artists and producers like J.Dilla and Madlib - and set up a collaboration with Knxwledge, who is a prolific producer in and of his own right, but is probably most well-known for some production work he did for Kendrick on To Pimp A Butterfly. Together, they formed NxWorries, and while they had dropped a collaborative EP last December, this was a full-length record - not just a mixtape as I had originally thought. And hell, I like both of these guys, this could very well be a fun release, so how is Yes Lawd!?

Sunday, July 3, 2016

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2016 (VIDEO)

Well, this video was a ton of fun to make. Took me less time than I expected too, but it's always one of my favourites every year.

Next up... look, I've never had any interest in Blink-182, so I kind of want to cover the Weval record or Blood Orange... but we are coming up to my third year anniversary, and you all should remember what that means, so stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2016

There will be a lot of headlines that suggest that 2016 has not been a good year for music - and if you follow the mainstream between the losses of several legends and a haphazard set of releases that slide between underwhelming and disappointing, that's easy to believe.

Of course, that view is not really reflective of reality, because if you look away from the Billboard Hot 100 - which I would advise, it's been a rough six months there - there is quality here. I think the big issue comes in that there have been fewer than normal outright smashes and instant classics as there were at the midyear of 2015, which was really frontloaded with incredible records. 2016 has been more scattershot, with a lot of great records that don't quite rise to the level of immediate classics, and also a fair bit more diverse. Country and folk, for one, have been a great year across subgenres, underground hip-hop has been pretty solid, and there's some great R&B, metal, and rock music that I've liked a fair bit. And that's before you get the genre-bending stuff that sticks the landing incredibly well, and I'd argue we've seen a lot of that thus far.

What this means is that it's been excruciating trying to narrow this down to my usual top twelve, in that the top half was very straightforward but the bottom half is a lot harder to cut. So while I almost chose to open things up to a top fifteen albums of the mid year, I figured I might as well stick with tradition and keep it at twelve, which meant some painful cuts - some of which I think will surprise you. So without further ado, let's start with...

Friday, January 15, 2016

video review: 'malibu' by anderson .paak

Man, I was expecting to like this, but this is such a ridiculously fun and catchy release. Can't recommend this enough, so much fun.

Next up... okay, Panic! At The Disco, don't screw this up. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

album review: 'malibu' by anderson .paak

The place where everyone starts talking about Anderson .Paak - and where many consider his stories begins - is with Compton.

And that's mostly because that was the first place where people actually heard him. He'd been flitting around the indie scene in California for some time under the name Breezy Lovejoy and had some traction with his 2014 album Venice, but it wasn't until Dr. Dre pulled him aboard Compton that he began getting serious exposure. And let's make this abundantly clear: Anderson .Paak is the biggest reason why that album works, operating as the over-eager observer caught up in Dre's hyper-stylized Compton, nearly drowning in it before becoming the spirit of Dre's oft-ignored social conscience. All of that, combined with his presence on The Game's Documentary 2.5 gave me the impression there might be a fair bit more to the guy beyond the distinctive nasal voice, a bit reminiscent of Kendrick but higher pitched and a shade more melodic and elastic.

So I dug into Venice, and wow, talk about an overlooked gem. Taking a west coast flavour with gentle soul, funk and R&B flourishes and sparse oscillating grooves, it's a remarkably chill and quiet listen that managed to be surprisingly sticky thanks to some great melodies, some unpolished but fascinating writing, and Anderson .Paak's earnest and yet surprisingly chill performance. Yeah, it does drag at spots, especially on the back half, but songs like 'Milk & Honey', 'Already', 'Get 'Em Up', 'Off The Ground', and the excellent 'Miss Right' are explanation enough for what Dre saw in this guy. And thus, with an bigger budget, a greatly expanded arsenal of producers and guest stars and riding some pretty impressive momentum, Anderson .Paak seemed set to deliver an even stronger sophomore release. So you can bet I was psyched for this - how did it turn out?