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 

 

 

 

 

Louis The Child “Kids At Play” EP Review by Josh aka DJ iEHOA

Robert Hauldren and Frederic Kennett make up the duo Louis The Child. Based in Chicago, Louis The Child has been producing music that blends brings the sounds of  hip-hop into the electronic world. One of their most notable songs It’s Strange has been recognized all over the world by artists like Taylor Swift and has also been featured in the FIFA 16 soundtrack.

 

In the end of October they released the 9-Track EP “Kids At Play” which has plenty of tracks that will remind you of your youthful days. Their signature bouncy euphoric sounds all are felt throughout each track. With soulful vocals from MAX on Dear Sense and Quinn XCII on The City along blissful vocals from Wafia on Better Not all three which were released as singles before the release of this EP.

One of the most notable collabs on the EP features NoMBe and Big Gigantic on Save Me From Myself  which is a well produced pop-crossover track.

Some of my favorite tracks on the EP are Interstellar, LOVE, and Space Jam.

You can check out Kids At Play here.

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Mixes by DJ iEHOA here

On Assignment: Arctic Monkeys’ Tranquility Base Casino Tour with Paola

by Paola Barreto

When I heard that the Arctic Monkeys were playing in San Francisco at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on October 22nd, I jumped at the chance to see the them live. I believe the last time they toured was four years ago in 2014. The Arctic Monkeys were one of the quintessential bands I listened to in my high school years. They are a British rock band who have grown a huge following especially after their AM Album.

I arrived to the concert slightly late. The first song I heard was “Four Out of Five”, one of the hits from their new album Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (released 11 May 2018). To my surprise the crowd was older, mostly in their 20’s or 30’s. People were dancing along to the music with beers in their hands.

I was afraid that the Arctic Monkeys wouldn’t sound good in concert, as some artists don’t. However, they sounded great, were energetic, and the overall atmosphere was enjoyable. The drummer Matt Helders even did a solo and threw his drumsticks in the air twice. The only song I noticed they messed up on and stumbled words a bit was “One Point Perspective” . They did 18 four counts before the Alex Turner started singing. The original song only has 8 four counts before the vocals.

During the show,, the crowd would shout “AM”. So in the middle of the concert Alex Turner said something along the lines of, alright now for “the smash hit”, then proceeded to play “Do I Wanna Know?”. The stag flashed light beams at intense guitar riffs, smoke streamed into crowds, and a large decorative cube on the ceiling rotated light across the room. I suppose we are in the age of disco cubes now, not disco balls.

The last song they played (before the encore) was “No. 1 Party Anthem”. This was genius because  it is a slow song. People pulled out their lighters and phone lights. The crowd huddled close to their loves and swayed gently.  When the song ended there was the usual encore cheer. The Arctic Monkeys came back to play three songs. While the second encore song played, a huge sign that said “MONKEYS” rose from the back of the stage. So I believe the encore was planned all along. The very final song was “R U Mine?”. The crowd went wild dancing and enjoying the finale.

What surprised me the most about this show was that they had a diverse setlist. Their last two albums moved away from their rough guitar heavy feedback sound to a more clean vocals clear sound. I thought the concert would play heavily on their new stuff, but they actually played a lot of old songs, which was cool. I leave you lastly with one of my favorite Arctic Monkey songs “Riot Van”.

 

Setlist:

Four Out of Five (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino)

Arabella (AM)

Brianstorm (Favourite Worst Nightmare)

Don’t Sit down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair  (Suck It and See)

Crying Lightning (Humbug)

I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor (Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not)

Knee Socks (AM)

One Point Perspective (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino)

Cornerstone  (Humbug)

The Ultracheese (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino)

Do Me A Favour (Favourite Worst Nightmare)

Library Pictures (Suck It and See)

505 (Favourite Worst Nightmare)

Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino)

Dancing Shoes (Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not)

Do I Wanna Know? (AM)

Pretty Visitors  (Humbug)

No. 1 Party Anthem (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino)

 

Encore:

Star Treatment (Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino)

Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? (AM)

R U mine? (AM) (Feedback)