Credit to my brother for sparking the need to write this review; learning recently that, not only is Anderson .Paak a true talent and also a top assistant to Dr. Dre on the stunning new ‘Compton: A Soundtrack’ for the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ biopic, but an artist with a recent album out. ‘Venice’ dropped on Friday 28th August, making it still eligible to be present day enough to pass comment about, but it also makes the cut for this coming week’s número uno in the record stakes.
It’s the case, sadly, that the second half of this 16-tracker is quite blatantly better. However, there are some glowing elements initially; ‘Milk N’ Honey’ and ‘The City’ both exude beach vibes in spades (pardon the sand castle-building pun) and offer idyllic grooves for a quiet night, beer in hand, in the garden or the embrace of the outdoors. It seems that, despite the abysmal turn of weather in the UK, summer tunes are still available to whisk us away mentally.
With token ’90s sound effects and boasting major synth-pop brass, ‘Put You On’ is a cheeky number, harnessing the gap between hip-hop and trance. This is the sort of sinfully marvellous album that suits Los Angeles perfectly; I suppose that’s why this fits as background beats to a good old fashioned GTA V session. Slightly differently, ‘I Miss That Whip’ comes a bit later, with the seamless elegance of an acoustic-led harmony; .Paak is soft, composed and feeds off the gentle drum machine effects all too well. This is simply another seriously catchy piece.
My favourites begin to roll in during the latter section of ‘Venice. Get Em Up’ relies on smooth piano keys; so much so, this might as well be a male Alicia Keys. The more I listen, the less I quibble at the questionably stereotypical lyrics, for the instrumental calibre is superb, and well aligned with .Paak’s vocal quality, irrespective of the vocabulary. ‘Paint’ is vibrant and punchy, with suitably trippy undercurrents, while ‘Drugs’ is easy, budget rap, lyrically, but top notch otherwise. Sure, it’s more YMCMB than Maybach, but it’s still decent; a suggested improvement, albeit out of bounds now, would be to pop Rick Ross on as a collaborator. He does always add that bit of spice. Anyway, further brazen, electrifying hip-hop comes through in ‘Right There’ and ‘Off the Ground’, with the former packing raw honesty and funky, dancefloor beats, and the latter pace and Disclosure-esque mixes. Sure, .Paak doesn’t seem the sort to be expected as an associate of Dre, but this is a very cool record.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Right There’