I'm often wrong—some might say always wrong. But this one? This one right here? This one I nailed.
Just over six months ago, we called Anderson .Paak's Malibu the album of the year, and now that the last days of 2016 are bleeding out, nothing's changed. Mr. .Paak has created an R&B/pop masterpiece that has not only fought off every contended over the last 365 days (or so) but will assuredly go down in history.
.Paak's had a hell of a year on multiple fronts, releasing new music at a pace that's particularly dizzying considering how head-shakingly good it all is. In many ways, Malibu's primary competition has come from .Paak himself, in particular, his work with Knxwledge. From "The Waters" to Yes Lawd! to his multitude of elevating guest spots, all that soul kind of blends together into one epic 2016 Anderson .Paak collage, and so it's worth, at least for one final time, focusing solely on Malibu.
No other album this year, in any genre, has supplied me with the sonic armor to get through tough times like Malibu. Who amongst us doesn't want to one day look to the world and say, "I'm glad that you finally made it to the future but you're late"? Who doesn't feel like they've spent years living under their greatness? This is more than music, this is, in the true tradition of soul and R&B, a gospel of overcoming struggle.
And so who can't see their own success in Anderson's? He's the true people's champ, rising solely on breathtaking talent and sheer determination, and Malibu is his title belt. In the immortal words of Snoop, he is I and I am him. But while the album certainly offers no shortage of motivation and deep reflection, it's also worth considering just how versatile it is as well.
The aforementioned "The Waters" is dripping with enough soul to resurrect the dead, but this is also a project that comes equipped with the dance floor packing "Am I Wrong," the kind of song that could get grandmothers and granddaughters moving at a wedding (as long as no one listens too closely to ScHoolboy Q's guest verse). For every heavy song like "The Season/Carry Me," which let's all agree deserves to be considered for song of the year, are joints like "Silicon Valley" and "Come Down," which come packed with enough good times energy to illicit a supernova.
At their worst, lists and awards can turn music into a winner-take-all competition, which of course it isn't. There's a long list of other R&B/pop albums that deserve a spin in the spotlight and may the good lord bless whatever music has served as your personal soundtrack this year.
This is not that. This isn't a competition, it's a celebration, and we're celebrating the full-throated arrival of one of the most powerful R&B voices we've heard in years. May Anderson .Paak continue to receive all the flourishments he so richly deserves, may Malibu continue to play for years to come, and may we all learn to never again live under our greatness.
By Nathan S, occasional keyboard hitter and beard maintainer. This is his Twitter.
Photo Credit: Joshua Lang