Throughout the past few years, one name has been leaving a unique print in music, and that name is Brandon Paak Anderson aka Anderson .Paak. The rapper/singer/artist has been making waves for the past few years, from being part of the XXL 2016 Freshman List (and easily the best out of them…well, him and Denzel Curry, too.), having two critically acclaimed albums with Malibu (earning him a Grammy nomination and a place on my best of list in 2016) and Yes Lawd! under NxWorries, the collaboration between him and producer Knxwledge (also on my best of list in 2016), and even appearing on numerous tracks on Dr. Dre’s 2015 album Compton. On top of all that, he signed him to Aftermath Entertainment following the release of Malibu, and since then he’s been doing some features on tracks with artists like ScHoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Domo Genesis, Rapsody and various others.
Now on his third studio album Oxnard, (well, 3rd on his Paak moniker and final “beach” theme album following Malibu and Venice; 5th total counting the 2 he released as Breezy Lovejoy and the first one to be released on Aftermath Entertainment and 12 Tone Music, a record company under Warner Music Group), I was eager to see how this album turned out, and while I was bummed that “Bubblin'” didn’t make the final tracklist (and that’s the first complaint out of of the way), I was good with the singles “Tints” and “Who R U?”. So, how did the album turn out?
I’ll say this: after giving this 6-7 listens and thinking on it for a while, I was definitely feeling it a lot. It starts off with “The Chase,” a track that’s got funky drums, guitar, and even violins kicking it up a notch on top of great vocals from Kadhja Bonet and Paak hitting it up with this verse:
Hard to get up from this like Sonny Liston
Feel like it’s Ed and Laimbeer with the Pistons
Bad Boys, but no Will Smith and, only real friction
Got to the fork in the road, a split decision
I could eat or split everything, my own decisions
That would take a little more time and more wisdom
That would take a little more grind and more vision
Then came the song “Headlow” where Paak talks about getting head on the freeway and… okay, the song sounds fine, but after a few listens I just didn’t gel with it that much, and also headroad may not be safe especially if you run over a pothole (and let’s not envision that scenario). We do get a little political and social with the track “6 Summers” as the song delves into gun violence, sex scandals surrounding one current president who shall remain nameless, and talking about how he got a lesbian love child among other things, and the track does bang along as it hits you with that content. However, there are some tracks that I wasn’t feeling all the way like “Mansa Musa” featuring Dr. Dre and Cocoa Sarai. I wasn’t feeling the feature with Cocoa Sarai since she sounds like a Nicki Minaj knockoff, and Dr. Dre… look, the man’s a great producer, but he isn’t known for being much of a lyricist.
However, as soon as “Brother’s Keeper” with Pusha T came on, I was instantly back in my zone. This is my favorite track of the album at this point, and Pusha T killed his verse, especially talking about how his brother Malice of Clipse (well, now No Malice) turned down a half a million dollar deal and went on to be a born again Christian and how Pusha still loves his brother for doing what he wanted to do in his life. Oh and in case you’re confused by the following lyric:
He meant that while he’s still lauded in underground circles of hip-hop (and he should, DAYTONA is still a damn good album), he’s making money like a pop star. Then again, he is the president of G.O.O.D. Music so that is also a reason. “Anywhere” has that G-Funk flavor, and of course you hear Snoop Dogg on his game, showing that he’s good at it when he’s not phoning it in.
Whippin’ over the stove and a nigga gotta eat
Threw my raps in the garbage, fuck bein’ a MC
Thank the Lord for Nate Dogg and thank God for Warren G
Funny how time flies when you’re high as me
“Trippy” was an alright track with a Rodney Dangerfield sample with the topic of love and intimacy with their respective partners, and while Paak’s verse was good, I was about to give J. Cole props for his verse, but with this….
Used to have a honey that I loved when we was younger but
somehow got disconnected before Facebook got so big
I used to search her name hopin’ we could reconnect
But if I sent the message, would she still be on my dick?
He sounded as thirsty as he did on that KOD track “Photograph” a few months back. But thankfully, the next track is another solid one, as “Cheers” has Paak and guest feature Q-Tip talk about the pitfalls of life in the fast lane and the loss of loved ones as well. With Paak, it’s this line that gripped me:
Who he is referencing is the late Mac Miller and how we could’ve told Mac to slow down a bit, but Paak is doing the same thing as he does. And with Q-Tip, he reminiscences about his times with late rapper and fellow A Tribe Called Quest emcee Phife Dawg, and it’s a really a touching way to end the album. However, before you say “WE GOT 2 MORE TRACKS LEFT!”, Oxnard has a couple of bonus tracks. Let’s just say both are silly as hell, but I can only vibe with one of them, that being “Sweet Chick” with BJ The Chicago Kid where they talk about the different women in their lives ,and damn does this track have some silly-ass lyrics like:
She a gamer, gotta take her to arcades and shit
She be watchin’ Anime while I’m layin’ dick
Wanna go to Comic Con, I’m like “Come down a bit”
The ending of the track is hilarious when he’s talking about his yoga chick, and another girl walked in on him and threatened to shoot him. There’s also “Left to Right” where he raps about his newfound success in the music business and even uses a Jamaican patois in there as well, but I didn’t feel this track as much.
Yeah, I heard most responses to this album were very lukewarm and people were disappointed in it, but while I do get why, personally I think this is still a good album. We still get Anderson’s great soulful singing and rapping along with production that greatly fits him alongside some newer sounds he’s going for. While the production of some songs didn’t work for me (Mainly “Mansa Musa” and “Left to Right”), that’s a small percentage as most of Oxnard genuinely gels with me. I love the funky grooves and G-Funk sounds I got throughout it, and Dr. Dre did have some advantages and disadvantages on there. The songwriting is a bit weaker, mostly on tracks like “Headlow” and “Sweet Chick,” but I did like the latter more because of the groove and the ending.
While this may not be Malibu, this album is still one of the best projects I’ve heard this year, and it’s a great example of why I continue to like Anderson .Paak’s music. He’s definitely an example of someone who’s not just a rapper but more of an artist whose music you can vibe to. It’s a definite top 10 or 15 for me by the end of the year.
Final Verdict: Buy It. Yes, this will still bang for 6 Summers!
Oxnard is available on Aftermath Entertainment & 12 Tone Music on CD, Vinyl, Digital Download and Digital Streaming