Something I thought I’d never see again happened on Friday. Dr. Dre released an album from a new artist of his via Aftermath. However, this release didn’t come without a long hiatus for Cheeky Andy. Anderson .Paak started building up a name for himself in 2015, when he was featured heavily on Dr. Dre’s Compton album, which came off the heels of the release of his self-produced N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton and was also the first album he dropped since 2001 in 1999 (despite what The Game seemed to have thought). Since then, he dropped his critically acclaimed project Malibu at the top of 2016, albeit not through Aftermath. Cheeky Andy has been quiet following the sustained success of Malibu, but not before he became a highly sought after name in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene. As well as becoming the only person that Dr. Dre still works on music with, he has collaborated with most of the artists that are linked with Dr. Dre, including Game and most of the TDE camp. All in all, he has the backing of the greatest rap producer/A&R of all time as well as many of the top tier west coast artists of today. But fuck the cosigns and acclaim, we bout to see what’s really REALLY good with this project.
- Multi-talented musician; rapper, singer-songwriter and also an instrumentalist. Has a very unique vocal delivery that is instantly recognizable whether he is singing or rappingProduction is unsurprisingly very elaborate most of the time; takes great care in intricate details, uses lots of live instruments, not a lot of FL Studio pluginsHis overall sound has a very nostalgic and throwback feel to it, connected to the old school and very influenced by Soul MusicBest Songs released before Oxnard: “Come Down” “The Waters (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid)“, “Bubblin’“Best Project released before Oxnard: Malibu
Here is a reference for how I score tracks/albums. Use as needed.
- The Chase (feat. Kadhja Bonet): What. A. Jam. Scintillating instrumental that has many layers to it, excellent vocals from Kadhja Bonet, as well as a strong verse and singing from Cheeky Andy himself. 4.5/5
- Headlow (feat. Norelle): Nice smooth vocals from Anderson and Norelle, beat is very chill. Song is all about receiving oral sex in public., sets the subject matter for the following track, wild skit at the end. 4/5
- Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar): Another huge tune. Upbeat instrumental and a very strong hook from Cheeky Andy. Great vocal performance throughout from him as well as a rare but good flex-happy verse from K Dot. 4.5/5
- Who R U?: Very funky instrumental produced in part by Dr. Dre, who also ad-libs throughout the song. Short song, spoken word hook, catchy. 4/5
- 6 Summers: Very political song straight from the getgo. Andy speaks on how he’s displeased with the current president as well as gun violence. Song has a multiple breaks; content is knowledgeable but message doesn’t really fit the mood of the song. 3.5/5
- Saviers Road: Instrumental is more minimal than normal, drums come in and give Andy room to rap about things he experienced growing up. 4/5
- Smile / Petty: Song is broken in two different parts, Smile is more of a soulful slower song but ironically talks about a significant other pissing him off. Petty echoes the same sentiment but is funkier and the better portion of the two-part song. 4/5
- Mansa Musa (feat. Dr. Dre & Cocoa Sarai): Funky instrumental, but again more minimal than normal. Dr. Dre sounds like he hasn’t rapped at all in his hiatus, average verse from Sarai. Paak tries to creatively flex but song is mostly average. 3/5
- Brother’s Keeper (feat. Pusha T): Very impressive slow-building instrumental, great drums and guitar. Pusha T’s presence on this song fits perfectly and is undeniable; best rapping performance on the album. Abruptly switches to a long softer outro that drags on too long. 4/5
- Anywhere (feat. Snoop Dogg & the Last Artful, Dodgr): Soulful vocal performance from Andy, very R&Bish sound from him here. Excellent storytelling from Snoop in his opening verse as well, Last Artful Dodgr hold his own on the chorus. 4/5
- Trippy (feat. J. Cole): Very relaxing and tranquil instrumental. Good hook from Andy and good songwriting on the breaks and verses as well. Excellent verse from J. Cole where he recounts a long lost love. Vibes on vibes on vibes. 4.5/5
- Cheers (feat. Q-Tip): Very uplifting and celebratory instrumental. Anderson’s best rap performance on the entire album, brings a nice flow and introspective lyrics, pays tribute to Mac Miller as well. Q Tip comes in on a beat break and also celebrates his dead homies. 4.5/5
- Sweet Chick (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid): Another celebratory instrumental, with horns and soulful BJ backing vocals. Not really feeling all of the sexual references from Andy, tries to be creative with metaphors but it never really works. 3.5/5
- Left to Right: Bouncy instrumental. This song is sort of like the ending credits of the album, he put it on there but nobody’s gonna really stick around for it. Disappointing outro, not feeling the patois delivery. 3/5
This album has its high points but also has low points which we haven’t really seen from Anderson .Paak so far into his young artistic career. Going into the release we knew his immense talent gave him endless creative potential, and the fact that he hadn’t put out a solo work in over two years probably meant he had a lot of dope shit stashed away that he was going to unleash on this album. However, we didn’t see enough of that, there were only a few songs that really showcased his artistic strengths at his peak. A lot of the songs dragged on for a long time, even some of the best ones. Andy overcomplicated the production on many songs where it wasn’t needed, which is a shame because much of the musicianship that most likely took many takes and a lot of effort to record ended up falling to tired ears that were no longer interested. Despite all of that, the album is still a substantial body of work overall, which speaks volumes to Anderson .Paaks ability as a songwriter and his ear for beats. There weren’t many disappointing songs, but the ones that were there were apparent. All in all, I think most of us hip-hop fans were expecting a bit more from Andy here on his first major-label solo release. However, he still gives us a project that is very listenable for most of the way through and something that sounds different than most of the other shit that’s out there.
Final Score: 80/100