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.
With multiple arrest warrants under his belt and a petition boasting over 270,000 signatures calling for his deportation, it’s no wonder that Justin Bieber’s most recent studio album, Purpose, revolves around forgiveness and apologies. In just a few short years, Bieber has transformed from a pint-sized adolescent with shockingly good pipes into a moody, angst-ridden teenager with an affinity for dangerous driving and egging his neighbor’s house. However, while Bieber’s behavior has become annoyingly predictable, Purpose debuts some genuinely likeable tunes with a more mature flavor. With tropical house and hip hop influences scattered throughout, the Biebs’ fourth album is by far his most sincere effort to distance himself from his tween pop years and rebrand himself as a serious contender in the music business.
The album opens with “Mark My Words”, a blatant tribute to Selena Gomez and their weird on-again, off-again relationship. More importantly, it sets the tone for the rest of the album, which is centered on the themes of regret and redemption. After getting through the first two songs, Bieber lightens up a bit with “What Do You Mean?” and “Sorry”, two of the singles that were released prior to the album. These are by far the highlight of Purpose, showcasing Bieber’s growth since his last album with some cool house vibes. Also worth noting are “Love Yourself” for its subtle use of trumpet, “Been You” and “The Feeling” featuring Halsey. As for those of you that are nostalgic for the old Justin with his swooping hair and squeaky voice, don’t worry- there are plenty of classic Bieber ballads to bring you to tears, if only for his shameless use of awful cliches.
Whether you love or hate the Biebs, you’ve got to hand it to him- he has turned some questionable life choices into a solid collection of music that you will most likely catch yourself humming on your way to class or throwing down to over the weekend. Is Purpose just what the world needs to reignite the ever-dwindling Bieber Fever? I guess only time will tell.
Lindsey Tucker is one of the Alt/Top 200 genre directors at KSTO.
Following Nile Rodgers’ guitar work on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in 2013, elements of disco have crept back into the dance scene. Funky rhythms and jazzy minor 7 chords have been dragged from the depths of the discotheques they died in. Escort’s Animal Nature is a project that seeks to prove that elements of disco can be fused with modern drum beats and smooth up-to-date lyrics to form tracks that wouldn’t be out of place at a modern club. Escort themselves have said that they want their vibe to be relevant to today’s music scene while still sounding like that one gem of an album that you found the other day in an old crate of vinyl. Top tacks for me were Body Talk, Animal Nature, and Cabaret. I would also include If You Say So on the list simply for its driving guitar part reminiscent of Nile Rodgers on RAM.
Reviewed by Sam Brand, one of KSTO’s Alt/Top 200 genre directors.
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.