Review: Oxnard – Anderson .Paak

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The Californian rapper makes his return with Oxnard – a soulful, hip hop exploration of his home town.

Oxnard is Anderson .Paak’s deepest production journey yet. Partnering up with Dr Dre, who introduced .Paak to the world on his album Compton, the listener is taken on a ride through Oxnard California, accompanied by a west coast flow, with hints of Parliament and The Funkadelic on the way.

Anyone hoping for the same blissful funk from Anderson .Paak’s critically acclaimed Malibu may be left stunted as Anderson attempts a far more formulated and layered collection of tracks. Oxnard sees .Paak drive himself to a more creative and complex sound that is delivered on a very high level.

The album opens with The Chase, a funky and retro throwback that feels more like the intro to TV shows like Shaft and CHIPs than a hip hop album, but .Paak’s unique lyricism and jazzy style is perfectly put on display. Part of the albums sound is heavily reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, with its combination of hip hop and funk. Lamar himself features on the album’s first single, Tints, a funky classic exploring fame and the high life.

The album dips its toes into the political climate on the track 6 Summers, as .Paak discusses Trump’s sexual affairs and gun violence. His trademark easy going style allows his message of peace instead of violence to land well.

Despite the albums collection of soulful and spirited tracks it falters in delivering what .Paak is best at. His free flowing musical ability is restricted because of the rigid formulated nature of the album. This makes for a sound that, although high quality, lacks a rhythmic flow that some Anderson .Paak fans may not be taken by.

Oxnard excels in its collaboration with its featured artists, with the likes of J Cole, Pusha T, Q Tip, Dr Dre and even West Coast legend Snoop Dogg all making appearances. Anderson .Paak’s is exemplary throughout the various jumps in style in the tracks.

Anyone in need of Malibu vibes will feel right at home with the track Cheers, and Dr Dre produces a masterful retro West Coast sound to the tracks Anywhere and Saviors Road. The album is another commanding step forward in Anderson .Paak’s career and sees the rapper move from the his signature jazzy drumming to a complex layered hip hop LP.

By Iain Leggat

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