Andre 3000. Smokey Robinson. Nate Dogg. Brandy. Sonyae Elise. The list of features and guests on Anderson Paak’s new album is like a history of soul music, from the classic through 1990s gangsta hook singers and new jack, to a new artist who got her start on TV. And that’s exactly how the album moves–through genres and styles, but consistently hipsway soul.
I’ve read reviews saying that this album just walks over old ground, but I say: So what? Yes, Paak has already proven he can make music like this. But the first four Beatles albums did the same thing–they stayed within largely traditional rock and roll borders, but moved closer to perfecting that sound. On a track like “Reachin’ 2 Much,” that’s exactly what Anderson is doing. A rock and roll backbeat, with horns and high hat, and lyrics about God, the song could have been written by Earth, Wind and Fire. But then a minute-and-a-half in, it does a firm swerve into disco and feels like…Well, also like EW&F–but like the other kinds of songs they did. (Every EWF song can be summarized as “Fantasy” or “Boogie Wonderland.”)
I’m not going to say this is the best album ever, or even Anderson.Paak’s best. But I am going to say it’s damn good, lots of fun, and really should make you want to dance.