After years of grinding for fulfillment, what occurs whenever you get all the things you need? 2016 was an inescapable 12 months for Anderson Paak however the narrative hooked up to his rise is what made it really feel so real. The man can do something: play the drums, sing funk and rap about stealing your lady with a wink. It’s this charisma, in addition to his innate songwriting abilities, that made him stand out on Dr Dre’s Compton, and dropping a solo album and a collab with Knxwledge in 2016 appeared to solely bolster this notion. It’s additionally this innate charisma that singlehandedly saves each stiff and awkward second present in Oxnard. His first album for Aftermath, with Dre executively producing and a slew of manufacturing courtesy of Paak himself, ninth Wonder, Q-Tip, Mell and members of the Free Nationals, goals sky-high.
Kicking it off with a two-song suite that begins with the sound of flutes and ends with a critical case of street head gone incorrect; Oxnard is meant to be stadium-level shit. Paak has an awesome voice; a honeyed rasp seemingly able to doing something and as a rapper, he is emotive and charismatic. It’s his singing voice, one thing you’ll be able to describe with a collection of exclamation factors, is what drew in listeners and it’s this voice that you just hear on lead single “Tints,” a busy, knocking jam that you just’ll hear all 12 months whatever the climate outdoors. Yet Oxnard pushes this to the sidelines and prioritizes the latter. It largely works out as a result of Paak can nonetheless coax participating melodies out of his raps, even when they’re a bit stilted at occasions. “Who R U” exhibits simply what he can do when he’s engaged in Rap Paak mode, bouncing off the partitions because the off-kilter drums threaten to swallow the whole room complete.
Yet when given an even bigger palette to attract from, Paak stumbles. “6 Summers” begins off as a free-associative jam; Trump’s lovechild, Fela Kuti and gun reform weighing closely on Paak’s thoughts earlier than the band tears the music aside on the halfway level, rebuilding it right into a simmering, West Coast burner that leaves you to marvel why we needed to get by way of some awkward freestyling first. “Mansa Musa,” that includes Dre, feels far nearer to the latter’s Compton than Paak’s imaginative and prescient right here. Album nearer “Left to Right” options some grossly misplaced patois that feels extremely misplaced on the finish of a journey; a wild monologue because the film credit shut and the huge angle shot of a serene Los Angeles fades to black.
One good thing about working with Dre is the upgraded Rolodex of names to name upon. Snoop Dogg takes a break from hanging out with Martha Stewart to take younger listeners to high school on the g-funk “Anywhere,” sounding completely thrilled to reminisce. BJ The Chicago Kid is available in with a joyous visitor vocal on “Sweet Chick,” an extra reminder of Anderson .Paak’s charisma as a result of no one else can say one thing fairly as ridiculous as “she be watching anime whereas I am laying dick” and promote it with a wink and fun. “Brother’s Keeper” makes an attempt the identical trick “6 Summers” tried, however to higher success, sounding brewed within the California desert as .Paak and Pusha T commerce off verses about remorse and success. “Trippy” finds J.Cole persevering with his 12 months of stellar visitor verses with one about utilizing rental vehicles as a flex and attempting to meet up with previous flames. Then there’s “Cheers,” a eulogy to occasions and other people passed by. Loss weighs heavy on the minds of .Paak and Q-Tip, who paints a shocking tribute to Phife Dawg. “My story ain’t over, I am nonetheless turnin’ pages” Q-Tip raps, “But the image I painted with you in it has light”
Oxnard is not any failure however it faults underneath the burden of its crushing ambitions. Malibu and Yes Lawd! gave .Paak loads of room to do his factor however labored wonders with limitations. Here, we’ve a Paak wanting to determine simply what he can do with extra. But Oxnard, with its sinuous mixture of West Coast funk and hedonistic rap, proves that Anderson .Paak is among the finest at the moment and has a traditional (if not a number of) ready. He’s been affected person all through his total rise to the highest; it solely is smart to use the identical logic to his famous person second.