by Peter Keough ’20
Even if you have not heard of Anderson .Paak by name, it is likely that you are probably familiar with some of the work with which he is affiliated. The man is not only a rapper, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, but has also produced and featured on songs by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Christina Aguilera, A Tribe Called Quest, and even the late Mac Miller. He also co-fronted a project with songwriter and producer Knxwledge, under the name NxWorries, that was met with critical acclaim. However, on his newest solo album, .Paak is able to truly show off his personal skill set.
This new album, named Oxnard after the city in Southern California that .Paak was born and raised in, was released on Nov. 16 by Aftermath Entertainment. This is notably the label founded and run by ex-N.W.A. member Dr. Dre, who also produced the entirety of Oxnard with .Paak and various other producers. Dre worked closely with .Paak throughout the entire album-creation process, helping him flesh out each of the 14 tracks into a cohesive whole.
In full, Oxnard presents itself as a shimmery, warm album with plenty of heart and soul. Anderson .Paak’s trademark focus on creating sticky, sultry grooves is present throughout the work, making the listener sonically invested in each and every song. He effectively transitions between funk-tinged slow-burners such as “Saviers Road” and “Anywhere” (feat. Snoop Dogg and The Last Artful, Dodgr) to more upbeat, glittery songs such as the lead single “Tints” (feat. Kendrick Lamar). Rolling Stone writes, “.Paak remains an anomaly: No one else is as dedicated to upbeat and funky hip-hop soul as the 32-year-old singer, rapper, and drummer,” perfectly highlighting .Paak’s versatility.
It is the album’s dedication to finding these grooves, coupled with the dedicated production by Dr. Dre and company, that allows Oxnard to bring some summer warmth to November. Each song is crafted in such a fashion that it feels as if the listener is sitting in the studio as .Paak and his band the Free Nationals are recording. Whether he is rapping about the tinted windows of his car, the prevalence of gun violence in the U.S., or the passing of dear friends, .Paak is always able to bring a sense of cool to his songs on Oxnard.
Through this use of breezy melodies and hypnotic vocal performances, .Paak’s Oxnard is successful in bringing a taste of summer to these dreary fall and winter months. His songs convey the feeling of cruising down the highway with the windows down, without a care in the world. The song “Tints” begins with .Paak crooning “I been feelin’ kinda cooped up, cooped up/I’m tryna get some fresh air.” For listeners, Oxnard is exactly the breath of fresh air necessary to get us through these humdrum months. So sit back, relax, and throw on some Anderson .Paak to bring some brightness to a gray day.