Anderson Paak, "Malibu" (Empire)

California singer-rapper Paak's name caught people's attention when it showed up not once but six times in the credits on "Compton," Dr. Dre's 2015 album of new music tied in with the "Straight Outta Compton" biopic. Dre's imprimatur is an invaluable asset, as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar can attest. And on his second album as Anderson Paak — his given name is Brandon Anderson Paak — the 29-year-old drummer makes the most of the opportunity. From the warm, rolling opening track, "The Bird," he pulls the listener in with compelling autobiographical details. "My sister used to sing to Whitney," he sings. "My mama caught the gambling bug / We came up in a lonely castle / My papa was behind them bars." "Malibu" bears some resemblance to Lamar's 2015 standout "To Pimp a Butterfly." Pianist Robert Glasper is one of the guest players, along with Paak's able, genre-fluid band the Free Nationals. But its hip-hop/R&B-jazz groove is less urgent in its approach, and Paak's vocal delivery is more relaxed and easygoing. He's poised to be one of the breakout acts of 2016.

dan deluca, Philadelphia Inquirer