Anderson Paak's latest album “Oxnard” goes off on a tangent in comparison to his previous albums. Oxnard is more than just an album though, it is a musical endeavour that dives into a universe so different from contemporary hip-hop that it feels refreshing.
Anderson Paak showcases his ability as both a music producer and lyricist, taking listeners on a journey filled with funk and groove. While the presence of Dr. Dre on the album as executive producer is definitely a factor that adds to the overall brilliance of the project, the core of the album is still a testament to Paak's own musical skills.
While more mainstream hip-hop albums aim for chart topping hits which will eventually end up becoming club staples, Oxnard shrugs off any notion of wanting the same. From start to finish, each track on the record is as far off from mainstream that even people who complain about “being born in the wrong generation” would love it. At the same time, it presents itself as an album that soothes the ears of anyone listening.
The opening track, The Chase feat. Kadhja Bonet, starts off with Bonet's beautiful voice singing the soft and melodic intro followed shortly by some of the smoothest jazz flutes you'll ever hear. As you start to question exactly what kind of song this is, you're greeted to the sound of a quintessential classic rock guitar and drums combo that are swiftly accompanied by Paak's verses.
Following this the second track, Headlow feat. Norelle, slows the pace and sounds more like a simple summer track you'd listen to when you're out on a drive with your girlfriend.
Immediately after, Tints feat. Kendrick Lamar comes on and immediately brings back the funky groove. Lamar's verse on the song is as quintessentially Kendrick Lamar as it can get, which, while in contrast with the track, blends in really well thanks to the quality of production.
Mansa Musa feat Dr. Dre and Cocoa Sarai brings Dre back to the front line, where he raps about how he is tired of mainstream mumble rap and is waiting for it to become irrelevant. Dre also mentions how he isn't someone who needs to dumb down his music for it to sell. The song overall criticises the modern day rappers and how temporary wealth goes to their heads.
Brother's keeper feat. Pusha T, is another masterpiece, with lines almost mimicking the flow of Jay Z's Story of OJ, all the while being transformative and unique in its own way, making it an overall solid track.
The tenth track on the album, Anywhere feat. Snoop Dogg and the Last Artful, Dodgr, is another brilliant track. It samples the song, Cutie Pie by One Way, paying homage to the 80s funk group. Snoop Dogg's verses are catchy as usual, reminiscing the days before Dre's album “The Chronic” came out and changed the way hip hop was viewed. Snoop also mentions how working on this song reminds him of G-funk, which is a genre him and Dre pioneered, showing how even the legend holds Paak in high regard.
While the album isn't anywhere near perfect, the overall direction in which Paak takes Oxnard feels like a breath of fresh air. Featuring a plethora of artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, J. Cole, Q-Tip and many more; Oxnard really is a slice of hip-hop pie that no fan of the genre can resist.