Although Anderson Paak has been on the scene for a while, the spotlight has only recently graced his presence. After his early neo soul projects as Breezy Lovejoy, Paak released his first full length album Venice in 2014. Despite the album’s success, Paak flew under mainstream hip-hop’s radar while picking up features with scene specific artists like Jonwayne, and Busdriver. It wasn’t until Paak was featured alongside Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre on Dre’s newest album Compton that Paak began to achieve Mainstream attention.
With the attention of the music industry, Paak used the success he achieved from his features on Compton to slingshot his release of Malibu, a 16 track project that clocks in at just over an hour. While Paak has consistently released crowd pleasing high energy tracks, he has always trended towards neo soul, a stylistic trait he chose to highlight on Malibu. Paak’s Soul-centric sound gives Malibu a polished groove that carries the album through the heavy,sentimental, and often autobiographical lyrics, without letting the songs drag.
Malibu is everything it needed to be, however I found myself let down. Although the album is packed with funk and groove, the grit that attracted me to Paak’s voice initially has been cleaned up in Malibu. The rough edges Paak displayed on Venice and Greenlight(Jonwayne) have been sanded into a smooth album that functions more as a commercial breakthrough than a musical manifesto. Despite the lack of tongue and cheek trap bangers, Malibu remains a breakthrough for Paak and the hip-hop scene. I’d recommend Malibu to anyone who enjoys the funkier side of Kendrick, the harder side of Jamiroquai, or the rougher side of any 50s west coast soul.
Favorite Tracks: The Bird, Come Down, Without You, and Heart Don’t Stand a Chance.
Release Date: January 15, 2016
Reviewer: Pete Sheehy
Review Date: 2/14/16
Late Knight Special is the first solo album of Pro-Era Producer Kirk Knight. After years of producing for fellow Pro-Era MC Joey Bada$$, Knight’s debut album is a welcome insight into one of hip-hop’s the up and coming producers. Late Knight Special showcased Knight’s talent as both a producer and an MC. The album spans every style of rap and hip hop, from the 90s boom bap flow and 36 chambers style beat of ‘Brokeland’,to the tight hi-hats, crisp snares, and thundering synth bassline of ‘Knight Time’. The variety of sound on the album illuminates the artistic path Knight has taken, and his musical influences become clearer throughout the album. Late Knight Special boasts an impressive lineup of features. Among the talent gracing Knight’s album is: friend Joey Bada$$, Mick Jenkins, Noname Gypsy, and LA’s own Thundercat.
I thoroughly enjoyed this album, the first song on the album ‘Start Running’ opens with a sample from iconic afro-futurist jazz composer Sun Ra, a classic hip-hop sample that instantly legitimized the album for me. The instrumentals were clean, diverse, and framed Knights vocals well. While Knights verses don’t quite match the quality of the beats on the album, they are by no means bad, and hold incredible merit as the producer’s first foray into serious rapping. I’d recommend Late Knight Special to almost any fan of hip-hop. Knight has something for everybody on this album, and while the tracks may not be perfect, Late Knight Special does not disappoint
Stand out Tracks: Brokeland, I know Ft. Mick Jenkins, Five Minutes Ft. Joey Bada$$
Pete Sheehy is the Hip-Hop/RPM genre director at KSTO.
In an era where hiphop is dominated by snappy trap hihats, and boosted 808 kick bass, is there any room for the old school? Krondon and Shafiq Husayn seem to think so. Together, the two industry denizens make up White Boiz, a musical collaboration formed out of mutual respect, and a desire to produce meaningful message filled music. The pair’s Debut album Neighborhood Wonderful did just that. Neighborhood Wonderful is a hard hitting Boom Bap album filled with the poignant lyrical insights of Krondon, and garnished with the crisp production of Shafiq Husayn in beats reminiscent of Madlib and Dilla. the album also boasts some significant features from Bass virtuoso Thundercat, and hiphop genius Kendrick Lamar. While I enjoyed this album, it didn’t particularly stand out to me. save for a few songs. I would definitely recommend this album to old school hiphop fans, and for those of you who only ride with the the ASAP mob and Drake singles, this album could be a nice introduction to the roots of HipHop culture.
Standout Tracks: G.U.N., Learn tho, Bloomingdales(Ft. Anderson Paak, and Thundercat)
Pete Sheehy is the KSTO Hip-Hop/Electronic music director.