"Make it Better" by Anderson .Paak Review
Anderson .Paak is an artist that can do no wrong in my eyes. Whenever I do an Anderson .Paak review, I end up gushing emphatically for about 600 words, and for good reason. Sonically, he’s pleasing to listen to whether rapping, singing, or just talking honestly. The bridging of funk, R&B, soul, hip hop/rap (and gospel influences) allows him to create tracks that are incredibly pleasing to listen to, before even listening to the lyrics themselves. Enter his latest album, Ventura, released in mid-April, which has glowing reviews.
His third album, Oxnard, was a bit different than what fans expected. Paak rapped more and there was lots of G-Funk inspired production from Dr. Dre. Ventura finds more of a happy medium as it allows Paak the room to rap on some tracks and to really sing and show his vocal range on others. Even though .Paak said that he recorded two albums worth of music with Dr. Dre, I don’t think that I’m alone when I say that I didn’t expect the album to come about so soon. Oxnard dropped less than 6 months prior to Ventura. But, I’m definitely not complaining, the album is great and its a really easy listen.
Now let’s talk about “Make it Better” specifically.
First of all, it features Smokey Robinson, a man that needs no introduction (but I will give him one anyway). Robinson is a singer, songwriter, and producer. He’s probably most recognized for his solo career and his work with The Miracles. As well as writing hit, after hit, for the Temptations and being a large part of the Motown Era. Seeing him as a feature on this song, gave me a few drawbacks at first. I was curious as to how their voices would sound together, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
The track is a perfect love song to use to transition into warmer weather. The steady beat provided by the drums and the sweeping playing of the strings, makes the song simultaneously sound modern and like a Motown classic. Though I was skeptical at the beginning, I found myself wishing that Smokey Robinson played a bigger role on the track. I love Smokey Robinson and his voice works very well with the production of the track.
I also love the ability that Anderson .Paak, Noname, Chance the Rapper and many other modern artists have to take more difficult subjects and to make them into bubbly songs. This song is along those same lines for me, as .Paak is imploring with his partner to work with him to make things better in their relationship, rather than letting than just letting the cards fall where they may. Instead of making a ballad, he gives us a punchy soulful record.
The video fits right in with other Anderson .Paak visuals, its colorful and has many shots of .Paak dancing his little feet off. We also get a cameo from his band, The Free Nationals, who I also adore. It depicts a typical love story and its just adorable.
I think that this is an interesting first single from the album, since he’s coming off of the success of Oxnard, that had a lot more rapping. However, with such a versatile artist like Anderson .Paak, I don’t think it’s difficult for people to transition. I am interested to see what the next singles will be (my vote is on Winners Circle) and what the visuals will look like.