Welcome to Gas or Facts, the new DJBooth series where we ask our staff to label hip-hop's hottest takes as either gas, totally untrue and hyperbolic, or facts, the undisputed reality of music. Writers then have one paragraph to defend their gas or facts stance.
Sound like fun? It is.
Our first topic is Anderson .Paak and classic albums. While Malibu and Yes Lawd! are two of the best albums of the decade, we have to wonder: does .Paak have two classic albums? Below is what our staff had to say.
Yoh Phillips: Facts
"Classic" is an overused classification. The meaning of hip-hop’s most sacred honor has all been stripped away. Yet, on occasion, a body of work hits all the marks to be worthy of such distinction. In 2016, separated by nine months, Anderson .Paak released two exceptional projects. Malibu and Yes Lawd! (with producer Knxwledge), the two lauded albums, represent the best of what .Paak has to offer. For talent and potential to meet on one body of work is a challenge, but to display the promise of your boundless prowess twice in the same year is like catching lightning in a Hennessy bottle. After spending the past two years listening to a grand total of 35 songs and hearing them all age like Steph Curry’s jump shot, it’s safe to say, Anderson .Paak has two classics underneath his belt.
Andy James: Gas
Does Anderson .Paak have two fantastic albums under his belt? Yes. Does Anderson .Paak have two classic albums under his belt? No. Is that because Malibu and Yes Lawd!, while being fantastic albums that cemented him as a star-in-the-making, aren’t quite as momentous (see: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy), impeccable (see: The Infamous) or influential (see: Flockaveli) as other so-called classics in the canon? Yes. Is “classic album” a muddled and silly benchmark that should only be discussed after a minimum of, I dunno, five years, like unlocking a MyPlayer badge on 2K? Yes. Does anything I’ve written change the fact that Anderson .Paak is pound-for-pound one of the most talented musicians walking the planet who’s more than likely about to drop another fantastic album? No, lawd!
Dylan "CineMasai" Green: Facts
The first time I played my father Anderson .Paak's music, he told me he sounded like Joe Tex. So let's not beat around the bush: Anyone who sounds like a singing Newport cigarette is sitting on classics. .Paak perfected his synthesis of R&B, rap, rock, funk, and soul with sunny embellishments on Malibu before mixing Ain't Shit tales of romance with Knxwledge's simmering knockers as the group NxWorries. Which album is better? The answer changes with the seasons (NxWorries will keep me warm all fall), but both feel timeless and soulful in the ways that we won't truly appreciate until .Paak grows into his Stevie Wonder hairline.
Hershal Pandya: Gas
Look, I love Anderson .Paak as much as the next person, and I hate to be one of those snobs who gets all pedantic about what it means to create a “classic,” but at the risk of doing just this, part of me feels like albums that adorn this title need to resonate culturally in a way that Yes Lawd! just didn’t. Off the strength of the music alone, you could make a case for either Malibu or Yes Lawd!, but only Malibu penetrated outside the confines of the internet’s hip-hop echo-chamber into the world of Starbucks playlists, NPR airplay, and television commercials. Of course, you could make the argument that it’s misguided to look to the mainstream for validation on this point, but my broader point is that Malibu has a much wider listener base, meaning that the likelihood that it will be passed down to future generations and stand the test of time is far greater.
Kenan Draughorne: Facts
No gas: Malibu made me realize I wanted to be a music writer. The fact that .Paak managed to craft and unleash a second full-length project in Yes Lawd! that same year—which I’ve had on repeat for the past 23 months—is nothing short of phenomenal. If we’re all willing to label an album a “classic” the same weekend that it drops, then classic isn’t a strong-enough word to describe the holiness that is the two shining gems in Anderson .Paak’s discography.
Donna-Claire Chesman: Gas
Anderson .Paak is a supremely talented artist, let's start there. Malibu and Yes Lawd! are two phenomenal albums, too. But do either of these records really move the needle forward? When we're talking classics, the notion of influence has to come into play, and we've yet to see .Paak's work directly shift hip-hop culture. See, classic albums and ghosts, they have plenty in common. They float around you and hound you into action. .Paak's records get played by choice, which is a wonderful thing, but I'm still waiting for the day I feel possessed by his tunes enough to have one without a break. Yes, it might be too early to call it for Andy, but it also might be that .Paak made incredible music with his best still to come. Gun to my head, I'm going with the latter, but if I'm wrong, please play "Wngs" at my funeral.
Brendan Varan: Facts
Facts over Gas, 4 to 3. We'll circle back after Oxnard, .Paak's upcoming album (and possible next classic).
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