Ever since the release of Anderson .Paak’s third album Malibu in 2016 many have been curious to see what is next for the Californian rapper. Malibu was a hip hop album deeply rooted in 70’s style R&B and funk; this sound is carried over onto .Paak’s latest album, Oxnard . .Paak’s style is very unique as it juxtaposes rapid verses with vintage sounding beats and funk inspired bass lines. Like many popular artists at the moment, Anderson .Paak is taking strong influence from older music and putting a modern spin on every song. Oxnard also has an array of incredible hip hop artists ranging from Q-Tip to Snoop Dogg to Kendrick Lamar featured on the album.
My favorite song off the album is “Cheers” featuring Q-Tip; it’s an homage to the friends, Mac Miller and Phife Dog, both of them recently lost. While the topic matter is sad, the song itself is upbeat and the main theme is celebrating those they lost. .Paak’s backing band gives the song a full sound and the female backing vocals add another rich layer. Q-Tip’s verse is incredible as it slows down the song making it more interesting to listen to. The saxophone featured gives the song a jazz influenced feel and the solo serving as an outro is beautiful.
“Mansa Musa” features Dr. Dre and Cocoa Sarai and veers away from .Paak’s usual style, drifting more towards Dr. Dre’s usual straight rap sound. The beat on this song reminds me a lot of old school 90’s hip hop combined with a flare 70’s funk, but the verses sound much more contemporary. Dr. Dre, a mentor and producer to .Paak, offers a hard hitting verse to the song in typical Dr. Dre style. The chorus consists of .Paak performing something in between rapping and singing helping divide the heavy raps of each artist.
“Tints” is an upbeat track featuring Kendrick Lamar that is heavily inspired by the California lifestyle. This song should have been released in the summertime because it’s about rolling your car windows down and driving in the sunshine giving off good vibes for a fun listen. It’s definitely one of my favorite collaborations on the album and it is no surprise that Lamar and .Paak made a track together. Both are heavily inspired by older music from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s; this collaboration reminds me a lot of Lamar’s work on To Pimp A Butterfly since both of their sharp raps are set to vintage sounding beats.
The track “Anywhere” is a bit of a slower song with Snoop Dogg, The Last Artful, and Dodgr. .Paak’s vocals on this song are raspy and rich with wispy backing vocals behind him. The prominent bass offers a lot of structure to the song and the piano embellishes make it hard to think that this a rap song. The lyrics, though, resemble those of hip hop and contrast nicely with the R&B funk instrumental.
Oxnard is a great compilation of interesting songs featuring talented rappers. It offers hip hop fans a nice break from trap music and soundcloud rappers because it features a real backing band, not just electronic sounds. After loving the vibes on Malibu, this album was not disappointing as .Paak carried over the same sound while also branching out as an artist and collaborating with a wide range of other rappers.