This is exactly what we want to hear from California native Anderson .Paak. It is soulful, spicy, and scrumptious. AP promised us that his fourth full-length album, Ventura, would be soul record, and this is a clear indication of that. This comes after his slightly controversial album Oxnard, which divided fans, some of which claimed that .Paak was betraying his fans. I thought this after my first listen because it was clearly smothered in Dr. Dre’s G-Funk style production. It took me a while to appreciate it, but I now see it as a great album, although it still does not match either Venice or the incredible Malibu.
Just the groovy drums and synth crescendo of the first few seconds are enough to draw any listener in. The song starts pretty subtly, but gradually adds various sonic and rhythmic layers. The strings add lovely tension to the track. The song also features silky background vocals from none other than Motown legend Smokey Robinson. Robinson’s vibrato is so endearing; this is an incredible vocal performance, even though he is not singing lead. AP’s own vocals are as charismatic as ever.
The Free Nationals are incredibly tight on this song. The bass part is so melodic and locked in. It’s simply astounding. The sprinkles of Wurlitzer and wet guitars throughout the song accent the beat very well. Even though the song is more or less the same two progressions throughout, the many nuances provided by the Free Nationals make this anything but repetitive.
“Make it Better” is the second single off Ventura, which drops on April 12th.