If you’ve been anyway close to a human following Anderson .Paak’s meteoric rise, you’ll know that he’s destined for success. Following up his excellent sophomore LP Malibu is a daunting task. Uniquely meshing soul, R&B, funk and hip-hop in a way never before heard, Anderson .Paak has carved his own lane in the industry. For God’s sake, he plays drums and sings. I’ve gotten a chance to see him in between Malibu and his Dr. Dre-produced follow up Oxnard in what was easily one of my favorite shows at Bonnaroo (for insight details on that, check here). Known as an homage to his hometown of Oxnard, California, he morphs the West Coast G-Funk vibes with his usual hybrid style and recruited the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Pusha T, J. Cole and Q-Tip. And this album was also excellent. Packed tightly with songs that anyone can vibe to, this was a necessary next step up the ladder to the top. To follow, he co-wrote a couple of tunes off of Christina Aguilera’s sixth album Liberation and embarked on a world tour on February 11, 2019 with. Yet he’s stopping with this.

Last week, Anderson .Paak, with help from Smokey Robinson, dropped his second single off of upcoming album Ventura (set to be released this Friday, April 12, 2019). Announcing his first album in just 6 months alongside a single “King James” and a new world tour with Thundercat, Mac Demarco, Earl Sweatshirt, Noname and Jessie Reyez, .Paak knew that his time is now. Without further ado, here are my thoughts on “Make It Better”:

There is no more universal feeling than love. While a taboo topic, one’s perspective on it can be niche. And no matter what, people love feeling feelings when listening to others feel feelings about love. Jumping into a relatable subject, .Paak asks, “How do you mend when you’re worlds apart?” Oy, a question everyone in long-distance or fading relationships pegs. Suggestively, this is anecdotal to the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?”, which discusses living with heartbreak from ending a relationship. However, .Paak wants to prevent the breakup by wondering this question as two lovers drift apart. Thankfully, the person he’s consulting for relationship advice is the legendary Smoke Robinson. .Paak goes on to reflect on the journey through his relationship with his partner thus far. Fiery romance, comfort and ease are all lost at this point. .Paak uses Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night” to juxtapose love at first sight with becoming strangers once again after a relationship ends. Where did this young couple go wrong? He must ask his current older self, a.k.a. the one he’s seeking advice from: Smokey Robinson. A dichotomous conversation with his nostalgic younger memories, this refreshes the same story told in every genre.

Smokey asks, “Do you wanna make it better? Do you wanna stay together?” This is followed by .Paak singing, “Hey, if you do, then let’s please make some new memories”, as if the younger self that enjoyed the fiery romance, comfort and ease is still there, but fell dormant through the years. He suggests in the next verse that they spice up the relationship by meeting in a foreign setting and trying refreshing their sex life, as many matured couples attempt to do, while simultaneously paying homage to Sugarhill Gang’s classic “Rapper’s Delight”. In coming from .Paak’s voice, the protagonist is desperate in trying to make things closer to how they once were. The last chorus is elongated to emphasize the last desperation to get his partner back for one last chance. Smokey and .Paak sing together as a conclusive hybrid of old and new perspectives on life, coming to a certainty that the protagonist needs to make the relationship work. A subtle, but nice finality on a heart-aching conversation. While not the densest lyrically, it is refreshing and turns a difficult conversation into a redeeming R&B hit.

You can catch him performing this live around the world:

6/8 @ Bold Sphere Music at Champions Square in New Orleans, LA

6/11 @ Revention Music Center in Houston, TX

6/12 @ Toyota Music Factory in Dallas, TX

6/14 @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver, CO

6/16 @ The Pearl in Las Vegas, NV

6/19 @ PNE Amphitheatre in Vancouver, BC

6/20 @ WAMU Theater @ Centurylink Field in Seattle, WA

6/22 @ McMenamins Edgefield in Portland, OR

6/27 @ Bill Graham Civic Center in San Francisco, CA

7/13 @ Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY

8/24 @ Reading Festival in Reading, UK

8/24 @ Leeds Festival in Wetherby, UK

8/28 @ Dimensions Festival in Fort Punta Christo, Pula, Croatia

4/12 @ Coachella in Indio, CA

4/19 @ Coachella in Indio, CA

5/11 @ Form: Arcosanti in Mayer, AZ

5/17 @ Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, TN

5/20 @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica in Cleveland, OH

5/21 @ The Met in Philadelphia, PA

5/23 @ Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT

5/25 @ Boston Calling in Boston, MA

5/26 @ The Pavilion at Rock Row in Westbrook, ME

5/28 @ MECU Pavilion in Baltimore, MD

5/30 @ Madison Square Garden in New York, NY

6/1 @ RBC Echo Beach in Toronto, ON

6/2 @ Meadow Brook Amphitheatre in Detroit, MI

6/4 @ Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island in Chicago, IL

6/6 @ Red Hat Amp in Raleigh, NC

6/7 @ State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park in Atlanta, GA

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