Anderson .Paak and Bruno Mars are already two of the best entertainers in the world. Easily. Both have cemented themselves as legends in the music industry through multiple Grammy-winning records and unparalleled live performances.
Most artists are lucky to be blessed with either a good voice or nice moves or some raw musical talent. These guys have it all, standing at the top of their game as singers, dancers, songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists.
Clearly, I’m a huge fan. I have been since 2009 when Mars came in on the hook of “Nothing on U” every night on my shower radio. I have been since 2015 when I heard .Paak’s velvety rasp on “Suede” at a house party and frantically shazaam’ed it.
I’ve often wondered just how powerful these two could be in collaboration. Their 2017 tour together seemed promising, but they never actually shared the stage.
So, please understand that I almost popped a blood vessel when I saw this on Instagram:
After stating how excited I was for this project at least once daily (to my girlfriend's increasing annoyance), the boys came through as promised with “Leave The Door Open” dropping yesterday.
Y’all, we’re off to a good start.
The playfully soulful track has all the snapability of a classic slow-jam and reverberating, boisterous crooning from both .Paak and Mars. The production is tight and features some very era-appropriate sounding string section, bells, and guitar parts. Because of who they are as people, the song came complete with a music video serving a groovy, glamorized ‘70s vibe. Watch and you’ll see all the necessary aesthetics right down to the earth tones, flat caps, beautiful women, and chains- all the chains.
.Paak leads the rhythm section and handles straightforward if not cocky verses like
“I’m sippin wine (sip sip) in a robe (drip) // I look too good (look too good) to be alone (ooo wooo)”
“We should be dancin, romancin // in the East wing and the west wing of this mansion, what’s happenin?”
His effortless charisma shines through to give an otherwise simple part some bounce and feel. His voice doesn’t get tested often enough, and I think that trying to keep up with Mars will highlight his range a bit more. The music video is evidence that his drumming will be featured front and center, which is great news. A large part of his draw as a performer comes from his insane ability to sing/rap entire songs while essentially laying down a drum solo at the same time.
Bruno Mars carries the hook just like he’s carried every other hook: flawlessly. With his buttery vocals, you almost believe him when he cries,
“I ain’t playing no games, every word that I say is coming straight from the heart.”
The band slips into the dreamy chorus and Mars hits us with his pleading reminder that,
“I’ma leave the door open, hopin’, that you feel the way I feel.”
His clean-cut, sometimes over-produced brand of funk is a magnet for hits. Unfortunately, it sometimes hides the authenticity the genre demands. I’m hoping that Silk Sonic will be an opportunity for him to be a little less perfect and a little more gritty. You know, that funk that nasty that gushy stuff.
The part carrying this thing even further over the top is special guest host Bootsy Collins. There’s not nearly enough time to cover how much of a legend he is, but in the world of funk, he’s an icon. The ex-James Brown bassist and longtime member of Parliament-Funkadelic is revered for his influential sound and psychedelic spirit.
When Bootsy names you something as cool as “Silk Sonic”, that’s an endorsement you can’t ignore, baby. You’ll hear his infamous high and smoky voice on “Silk Sonic Intro.” His inclusion on the album means two things:
1) Unshakable credibility for .Paak and Mars.
2) In return, a whole new generation of fans will get an education on the culture and history of funk and soul.
While the rest of the album is still a mystery, things are already moving fast. The “Leave Your Door Open” video racked up 2.2 million views in just a few hours. At the time of writing, it’s closer to 13 million. It’s trending on all platforms too, and I believe it just hit #1 on Itunes. It’s fun to see it happen. Gen z and oldheads are both sold on the new release, even if for completely different reasons. The engagement that all three of these guys draw is incredible, so expect this project to continue to do numbers.
Overall, it’s a really good track. To be honest, though, anything they put out was going to be good. More importantly, we have an introduction to what an evening with Silk Sonic will sound like. You immediately get the impression that this project is band first, ego last. Everyone involved in the project has a vast knowledge of music, and outside guidance from producers like D’mile will help wrap it in gold.
The chemistry is obvious, and neither .Paak nor Mars can stop typing in all caps about it. That’s really the ultimate goal in art. There is nothing better than being able to share something you put your whole heart into. Like Mars emphasized in a recent interview with Zane Lowe, “that fire has to be burning, and I’m BLAZING right now!”