A Soulful and Smooth Follow Up To “Oxnard”
West coast musician Anderson .Paak drops a surprising but soulful release with his latest project “Ventura” with the purpose to balance out the “rapid energy” on his last project “Oxnard”. It’s an 11-track project with some unique features which helps create a late 80s/early 90s vibe throughout the album such as Andre 3000, Smokey Robinson, Jazmine Sullivan, Lalah Hathaway, Sonyae Elise, Brandy, and the late Nate Dogg. Along with the the assistance of Dr. Dre as the executive producer, a major effort was put into this project and it pays off! To feature a track list composition with such as retro appeal with naturalistic R&B and make it have a modern aesthetic feel to my ears is a major accomplishment. To best describe this album would be sun roof down on your nice summer car, nice little breeze playing, and a gorgeous ocean view right in front of you. He made these two albums at the same time but purposely released them five months later due to the fact that they’re suppose to be parallels of the same journey you go through in life. Anderson .Paak describe the meanings of the parallels with these quotes:
“One you can play on your way to Vegas and one you can play your way back. After you do all of those horrible things and you can reflect on what you’ve done.”– Anderson .Paak on the meaning of the two separate albums.
Some standout tracks to me where “Come Home” ft Andre 3000, “Reachin’ 2 Much” ft Lalah Hathaway, “King James”, and “Make it Better” Ft. Smokey Robinson. Yes, that’s right, that’s not a typo. The one and only Smokey Robinson is on a 2019 album is amazing. Listening to “Come Home” reminded me of mid 2000s when Andre 3000 was dropping astonishing lyrics left and right on soul bets with amazing singers. The collaboration with Anderson .Paak literally had my jaw drop due to nostalgia and how well a Andre 3000 bar blends in with .Paak’s voice. “Reachin’ 2 Much” ft Lalah Anthony, who is the daughter of legendary Donny Hathaway, reminds of classic 70s soul train video and it gives me a instant “groovy” sensation in my mind every time I listen. Never would I have imagined a song in 2019 would make me feel that way and that’s astounding all in itself.
“King James” is a powerful song dedicated to Lebron James, Colin Kapernick, and all of the modern time leaders in society benefiting the world for a better cause. His inspiration for singing about the need to shed light on social change and activism in society was the late Muhammad Ali. .Paak claims him as one of the first public figure who used his platform to help his community, and .Paak illustrated a beautiful sense of deeper meaning in “King James”. Finally the last track, and I repeat .Paak actually got a feature some the music icon Smokey Robinson for track “Make it Better”. Not only did that make it better but it made it amazing and I felt every time that I listen to that song that Anderson .Paak could’ve came up in Smokey Robinson’s era, and that’s amazing. Every track on this album sounds good and the production is great. I couldn’t find a major flaw besides maybe not being for every type of music listener, so my score below is:
- Legendary features
- Creative concept
- Non stop play from beginning to end
- Great song writing
- Smooth, relaxing feel
- Versatile track list in terms of message and feel
- One of a kind appeal