Album Review: Oxnard by Anderson .Paak

by Cameron Cardwell

Anderson .Paak was signed to Dre’s label in 2016 and named one of the XXL freshman the same year after releasing Malibu. Since then, .Paak’s rise to fame from his Breezy Lovejoy days has been skyrocketing. After joining Dr. Dre on his 2015 album Compton, Anderson . Paak teams up with rap’s first billionaire once again to bring you Oxnard. The theme of this new album narrates .Paak’s return to his So-Cal hometown, sharing lessons he’s learned from being involved with fame, wealth, and the music industry.

After dropping singles such as Tints and Who R U?, Oxnard was shaping up to be a funky, synthy, and varied neo-soul/hip-hop album. Accompanied by .Paak’s trademark charisma and flow, Oxnard is the culmination of Anderson .Paak’s unique style, smooth grooves, and unmatched energy. Many sounds and ideas from Malibu and Venice can be heard on Oxnard joined by Dre’s trademark production and a little bit of nostalgia. Motown and G-funk are big influences for .Paak, especially on this album. .Paak is honing in on the styles that he does best on a polished and funky neo-soul/hip-hop album with great features and production.

Below are the individual track reviews and comments on the flow of the album, as well as the score. Thanks for reading! Yes lawd!

The Chase (feat. Kadhja Bonet) – Oxnard begins with the sound of someone getting in the car and shuffling through the radio. Then suddenly… Kadhja Bonet leads with an electric guitar riff that reminds of one of those cheesy 70s cop show intros. Themes of holding on and looking for hope in the face of blaxploitation and poverty are found throughout the track. Additionally, the break in the middle adds as a wonderful transition into a funky bass line. Overall, a great opening track.

Headlow (feat. Norelle) – Headlow begins with .Paak driving down the I-9 accompanied by a funky and bass driven beat with shimmering keys. As .Paak cruises through the interstate, he and his date “have to keep their heads low” due to the illegal activity occurring in his car. The song ends with him getting in a car accident due to the “services” the girl in the car is giving him, he instructs ongoing traffic to drive around him because he’s “almost there.” The theme indicates a sense of freedom by being careless. 

Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – A great synth-funk track with a lot of swagger.  A great feature from Kendrick Lamar matches .Paak’s charismatic verses. Only gripe with this track is the beat could have used a change-up on the tail end. Everything about the track is exciting and catchy, making this a highlight on the album. 

Who R U? – The other single dropped before the album. Not as synth-driven, but equally as catchy with a jittery hip-hop beat. .Paak’s bars comment on the current state of his success. Meanwhile thanking others, such as his friends and enemies,  for leading down the right path.

6 Summers – Another favorite off the album. A 2-part track from .Paak commenting on the POTUS’s twitter rants and living through a post-trump America. This track also features a Gil-Scott Heron quote, which he takes some liberties with to reflect the times. The beat change on this is also great shifting from a bass drove funk to a sweeter, off-kilter beat. This is one of the more dense tracks on the album and showcases.Paaks versatility. He quickly shifts from a sketch about road head to a commentary on our society and himself.

Saviers Road – A calm and slow-burning beat with catchy and clever bars from.Paak about his come up and obstacles. A nice little intermission in the middle of the album.

Smile/Petty – This track might be my favorite on the album. We begin with a smooth synth-funk track featuring beautiful vocals from.Paak and the backup singers. This segways into the second half of the track, Petty, which is equally as smooth with elements of G-funk. Both tracks feature lyrics about.Paak’s experience with relationships, women, and whatever problems/emotions come with them.

Mansa Musa (feat. Dr. Dre & Cocoa Sarai) – .Paak is continuing the synth-driven hip-hop feel of the album on this track featuring a great feature from Dre. The only gripe with this one is Dre’s verse could have been longer and the beat could have used some variation.

Brother’s Keeper (feat. Pusha T) – Another highlight from the album which features my favorite feature. Both.Paak and Push have great one-liners like, “If Jesus would’ve had a better lawyer would he have to see the cross” and” Arms reach of the reaper, they say it’s cheaper to keep her.” All of this revolving around themes of morality and Christianity.

Anywhere (feat. Snoop Dogg & The Last Artful, Dodgr) – A nice ode to Snoop and the G-funk/West Coast hip-hop scene. .Paak is now apart of the west coast hip-hop/funk lexicon so it was cool to see him recognize it on this track and the album.

Trippy (feat. J Cole) – This song opens up with some corny jokes that sound far away, somewhat continuing this radio theme. Then a swinging and swaggering beat comes on with Anderson .Paak rapping melodically. J Cole’s verse is upstanding but didn’t match.Paak’s lyrical versatility. 

Cheers (feat. Q-Tip) – Loved this one. Catchy, off-kilter beat featuring Legendary Hip-Hop Icon: Q-tip. (A Tribe Called Quest) 

Sweet Chick (feat. BJ The Chicago Kid) – A soulful track about.Paak’s past relationships. Artist comments on unsuccessful and toxic relationships being one of the prices of fame. Also features an incredible and uplifting verse from BJ the Chicago Kid.

Left to Right – The closing track of a very catchy hip-hop album. It would only make sense that.Paak brings us out with a funky ode to grime. The only gripe with this one is that I was hoping for something a little more high energy with grittier bars from .Paak about his rise to the top and the trouble along the way. Still a great track and a decent closer.

Score: 4/5