Anderson .Paak: ‘Bubblin’ review

What I Know:
Anderson .Paak is better known to his Mum as Brandon Paak Anderson and is a Grammy-nominated rapper, songwriter, drummer, singer, record producer and all round musical phenomenon from California, U.S.A.

To date he’s released two albums under the Anderson .Paak moniker (he’s also one half of the artist NxWorries) – the most recent of which was 2016’s stellar Malibu.

I like to think I played a small but significant part in Paak’s rise when his song Am I Wrong? was featured on an early edition of the podcast version of this very blog. But, in truth, I suspect being included on an Apple ad probably had slightly more to do with it.

What I Like:
Here’s something I didn’t know the last time I featured Paak in my reviews; before he made it big in the music world, he was let go without warning from his job on a marijuana farm in Santa Barbara. The redundancy left him homeless together with his wife and infant son.

So man knows what it’s like to be on the bread-line with mouths to feed. And, believe me, he references that plenty of times in Bubblin; a song which is actually fundamentally an ode to his new-found success and riches.

“One in the hand, one in the bag” is how he describes it, subverting the old phrase, ‘a bird in hand is worth two in the bush’. Why choose when you don’t have to?

And while I often find this sort of boasting distasteful, it sort of looks good on Anderson .Paak. And the reason he gets away with it is because, in his case, being rich gives him the freedom to be creative and take risks.

After the success of Malibu, it would have been so easy to stick to the more traditional Stax-influenced funk stylings that featured so heavily on that album and helped him make his name.

But, sonically, this is closer to songs like Milk N’Honey from his debut Venice. A regression, you might think.

But, fortunately, in true Paak-fashion, he’s upped the ante, mixing the trap beats with a wild strings section that whirls and swoops like a Tasmanian Devil in the background.

And when you know about his early days, a song that makes such nods to his past, while also pushing forward bravely has to be applauded.

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