Dr. Dre protege blasts off into a mellow world of far-out vibes
Like Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment or Raury, Anderson Paak is a dreamer and a romantic who blends hip-hop, R&B, rock and soul into a funky world all his own. The Oxnard, California, musician updates the muted grooves of Soulquarians-era landmarks like D'Angelo's Voodoo with the sweeping, wide-screen ambitions of recent hip-hop concept albums like Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly or Dr. Dre's Compton (which features Paak on six tracks). He thinks far out of rap's boundaries (guests include jazz pianist Robert Glasper, samples of Australian soul crew Hiatus Kaiyote and a five-piece family choir); and he favors unorthodox arrangements (the sputtering drum machines and furious rapping of "Your Prime" make way for some live kit pounding courtesy of Paak himself). Paak has a particularly good eye for the bumps in relationships – as he says, "I'm from the city where they wear bikinis in the water drought/But I'm used to having cyclones blown in and out of my life." But the music isn't always as dynamic as his thoughts, opting for a mostly mellow mood that matches the LP's carefree samples of surfing documentaries, but doesn't always capture their freewheeling individuality.