Two years ago, we dubbed Anderson .Paak's Malibu one of the most sonically-extraordinary albums of 2016. But since then, he's been quiet on the solo front: he dropped his collaborative project with Knxwledge (Yes Lawd!) the same year; nabbed a guest spot on Rapsody's Laila's Wisdom the next year; and even his backing band The Free Nationals released their own LP.
Though he's technically remained tight-lipped about his own upcoming effort—only saying that we "can definitely expect it this year, sometime"—he hasn't necessarily refrained from teasing us entirely. Like, there's been real, visible, evidential footage of him in the studio with Chance the Rapper, but still no proof of product yet.
This year, he's decided to stick with his streak of building anticipation for new material, and magnified that mission today with new single, "Bubblin.'" But before we get to that, let's revisit .Paak's year, thus far.
A collaborative effort from .Paak, Ab-Soul, and James Blake, the trio each brought their own trademark element to the Black Panther soundtrack's "Bloody Waters": preacher-esque passion; snarling delivery; and melancholic calm, respectively. And all without a misstep.
For his first solo song of the year, "'Til It's Over," .Paak opted for the unusual route, debuting the surprise in an FKA Twigs-starring Apple commercial for their Home Pod device. While hypnotized by her superpowered moves, fans were equally enchanted with .Paak's soulful vocals, skittering percussion, twinkly xylophone, digitized synths, and more.
In 2015, .Paak caught a major wave upon appearing on six of Dr. Dre's Compton tracks--he then signed to the veteran producer's Aftermath Entertainment the next year. Now, it seems Dre is repaying the favor. After revealing that he "had a heavy role in this new album," .Paak took to Instagram to share evidence of those studio sessions but, of course, in the form of a silent still image. He did the same with a photo of newcomer Kadhja Bonet.
Visiting Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show to premiere his latest single, "Bubblin," .Paak said it was just one of "65,000 songs in the vault." But that doesn't make it any less urgent. In fact, that's all it is. Within seconds, the track's blend of accelerated horns and strings calls to mind a cinematic thriller with its villain on the run. And that's exactly what .Paak was going for apparently, describing it to the host as "black 007 action adventure high speed chase type of music." Naturally, it's not reportedly pegged to any project, but we'd like to believe that's simply because the project itself hasn't been announced yet.