Somehow, until today, Anderson .Paak — the beloved crooner-multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire who's stretching out R&B into jazzier, funkier inflections — hadn't cut a track with an icon from the bygone Motown era.
Enter Smokey Robinson, the soul legend-turned-label exec, who lends his voice on .Paak's latest single. Fresh off a Grammy win and "King James," the first glimpse from his new album Ventura, "Make It Better" is a plea to weathering the stormy trials of a romance that's long departed from honeymoon avenue.
"Make It Better" has the makings of a modern soul classic. As .Paak sings of falling "right out of touch" with his partner, Robinson offers silky-smooth reassurance with his harmonies, accentuating the plush bed of strings that fills the track.
"And it's easier to run away / Than to look for what would make you stay," he sighs, recognizing the hard work that's required in long-term fidelity and commitment. The Andy Hines-directed visual reflects the challenge, documenting the thick and thin of .Paak and his partner, right down to the first glances.