Quality takes time. Free Nationals, introduced to the world as Anderson .Paak’s backing band, had been telling media outlets they were putting the “finishing touches” on their debut album as far back as February 2018. Nearly two years later, the band delivers this self-titled debut, featuring songs as sharp and soulful as anything in .Paak’s catalog, plus a diverse array of guest voices. .Paak is, of course, present, supporting the gang on “Gidget,” but so are trap-music veteran turned outspoken social activist T.I. (“Cut Me a Break”), moody R&B antihero Syd (“Shibuya”), dancehall star Chronixx (“Eternal Light”), and Buffalo, New York-orginating Gambino rap traditionalists Westside Gunn and Conway (“The Rivington”), among plenty of others. The tie that binds is the funky and freewheeling Free Nationals sound, full of arrangements able to float the kinds of voices that have themselves impacted so many worlds. Hear it in full on the instrumental track “Lester Diamond,” a chance for the album to emphasize exactly who the Free Nationals are—some cats who can really play.
Obituaries (feat. Shafiq Husayn)
Beauty & Essex (feat. Daniel Caesar & Unknown Mortal Orchestra)