Tag Archives: Kendrick Lamar

2016 is Anderson .Paak’s Year, We’re All Just Living in It

Sometime around the middle of this year, I realized that a surprisingly large proportion of the new music I loved was being made by one person: Southern Californian recording artist and producer Anderson .Paak. Paak isn’t a newcomer, per se; he’s been around since 2012, when he released his debut album under the moniker Breezy Lovejoy, and his 2014 album Venice generated some minor buzz among people who pay more attention to contemporary music than I do. But I first became aware of him right around the time a lot of other people seemed to: late 2015, when he signed with Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records and contributed to several tracks on his new label head’s comeback record Compton.

From that description, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Anderson .Paak is a rapper–and he is, at least under the expanded definition of what constitutes a “rapper” in 2016. He contributed a freestyle (above) as part of XXL magazine’s annual “Freshman Class,” alongside other such unconventional artists as Desiigner and Lil Dicky; he was also recognizably rapping on the first track I heard from him, “Unique” by yet another generically hybrid artist, Washington, DC’s GoldLink. But that’s not all he’s doing: even on his most conventionally hip-hop songs, Paak’s flow is like a more musical, less rhythmically complex version of Kendrick Lamar‘s rasp on To Pimp a Butterfly, with a little bit of Southern soul shouting and even a dash of Morris Day‘s cartoonish jive in the mix. On “Come Down” (below), the most recent single from his album Malibu, he certainly struts like a rapper, but the groove he’s tapping into comes from a tradition that far precedes hip-hop as a genre.

And that, I suppose, is the heart of Anderson .Paak’s appeal. Like the aforementioned Kendrick, he’s undeniably contemporary, but with a deep sense of musical history: he was, in fact, recently embroiled in a minor “beef” with viral trap mumbler Lil Yachty over the responsibility of artists to be “students of the game first.” Personally, I’m not all that interested in comparing the two; I think there’s room for Anderson .Paak and Lil Yachty. But Paak’s insistence that young artists know their history says a lot about where his own work is coming from. Malibu bounces from rap-influenced heaters like “Come Down” to soulful, jazz-inflected ballads like “The Bird” to the expansive alt-hip-hop suite “The Season/Carry Me” (below), and sounds equally convincing on all fronts. It’s the work of an artist who’s deeply invested in his influences, but not beholden to them. In concert, Paak is just as versatile: moving back and forth from the front of the stage to behind the drums as the situation–and his sense of showmanship–demands.

Malibu may very well be my favorite album of 2016 so far–which is saying something, since it came out way back in January. But even outside of that album, Paak has kept coming to my attention. There he was in May with a feature for electronic producer KAYTRANDA:

Then there he was again in August with rapper Mac Miller:

Most recently, Paak has released a second full-length, Yes Lawd!, with Stones Throw producer Knxledge as NxWorries. It’s also great: a glitchier, druggier, less organic incarnation of Paak’s laid-back hip-hop soul.

I’m not gonna lie: it’s been a while since I’ve been as excited about a new artist as I am about Anderson .Paak. His blend of vintage influences with contemporary sensibilities is pretty much tailor-made for my tastes, and I can’t wait to see what he does next. And when it comes time to put together my “Best of 2016” list for Dystopian Dance Party, the only question at this point is how many separate times Paak is going to show up.

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Filed under 2010's, 2016, Contemporary R&B, Hip-Hop, Uncategorized

Jazz Golden Age?-An Article From Ron Wynn

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Filed under Jazz, Kendrick Lemar, Miles Davis, Robert Glasper, Uncategorized

Andre’s Amazon Archive for 11/8/2014: ‘Where Does This Door Go” by Mayer Hawthorne

Mayer Hawthorne

If those who read this are aware of my musical tastes,it would seem that someone like Mayer Hawthorne would be just up my alley. That is someone in my age group who was taking up with the pre hip-hop sub genre of retro soul/funk. Interestingly enough that was the main reason why I shied away from him. There was something about his entire approach that was,to use a rather tired critics device,a bit derivative. On the other hand,from the individual songs I heard there was an individual musical personality bubbling under the surface. At the same time as a singer,songwriter and multi instrumentalist Mayer Hawthorne was someone whose music did interest me. So when it came to my attention Mayer Hawthorne was dropping a third album that would be a stylistic (and more individualistic) change in his music,I thought it was the time was right to begin exploring what he had to offer.

“Back Seat Lover” and “The Innocent” are very spare Fender Rhodes electric piano led pieces-kind of a “naked jazz/pop/funk” hybrid for those familiar with writer Ricky Vincent’s categorizations within the funk genre. “Allie Jones”,”The Only One” and “Crime”-featuring what I find to be a rather useless (to me anyway) rap by Kendrick Lamar,are probably the biggest departure because they do reflect modern hip-hop’s approach to funk more. Still it is very much live instrumental funk too which gives it an extra dash of spice. “Wind Glass Woman” is a favorite of mine on this album,with it’s spirited late 70’s dance/funk friendly ethic. The vocal range and bass/keyboard dynamics on “Her Favorite Song” are another amazing turn here. Two songs here are very indicative of Steely Dan’s production approach. “Reach Out Richard” has a strong Aja era flavor while “The Stars Are Ours” is a heavier jazzy funk shuffle. Appropriately both showcase the more…shall I saw reflectively seedy aspects of the lyrics to these songs.

“Corsican Rose” has a larger,mildly electronic mid 80’s production yet at the same time a contemporary funk via hip-hop type groove-yet another effective hybrid. That electronic flavor of course shows up again on the witty “Robot Love”,another spare groove introduced by a sample from “Family Guy”. Of the two ballads the title song is a huge sounding,orchestral soul epic whereas the closer “All Better” is a somewhat more subtle piano based melodic type number. Hawthorne does a lot with his sound on this album. These songs have much more elaborate melodies and vocal harmonies that what I’ve heard from him. The key to this album is the heavier emphasis on the deepest end of the sea of funk. Mayer’s bass lines on some of these numbers are among the heaviest on a modern soul/funk album aimed at a contemporary audience. His love of hip-hop actually guides this album (for the most part) in a very positive way as well-more through rhythm than production. I personally feel this is a very impressive album and an excellent way for Hawthorne to develop his own unique signature sound.

Originally posted on July 18th,2013

Link to original review here!*

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Filed under 1980's, Funk, Hip-Hop, Jazz-Funk, Late 70's Funk, Mayer Hawthorne