Anderson .Paak - Oxnard - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Anderson .Paak - Oxnard

by Tim Sentz Rating:5 Release Date:2018-11-16
Anderson .Paak - Oxnard
Anderson .Paak - Oxnard

Right from the get-go of his breakthrough 2016 album Malibu, Anderson .Paak seemed poised for stardom. The hour-long album had all of the major points the R&B novice needed to get listed on festival line-ups, and his backing band The Free Nationals were wizards at their instruments. Malibu was a landmark album, full of breezy funk, sexy rhythms, and a soulful .Paak on vocals. Fever pitch anticipated for a follow-up pretty much started the minute Malibu finished.

So the big question with Oxnard is, what the hell happened? The album will no doubt launch .Paak into the spotlight, but at what cost? Early hints at the album’s potential – this summer’s “Bubblin” and the early spring “Till It’s Over” (both of which are not on Oxnard) – made it seem like .Paak was ready to grab the bull by the horns and deliver another soulful record with poignant content. Oxnard unfortunately, is mostly rubbish. A slapdash of poorly executed hip-hop, foolishly slathered in over-sexualized mundanity. If .Paak’s approach was meant to be playful, he’s failed at it.

Let’s face it, it’s 2018, and while sex may sell, it’s a little bit absurd to have the second track on your album be about blowjobs, no matter what level of mainstream you are. He’s no stranger to the sexual notes, “Silicon Valley” for starters is all about the physical, but “Headlow” is a slap in the face to women, and has the potential to be sung by date-raping frat boys across the world as they continue believing they can be the next Brett Kavanaugh. The track finishes (no pun intended) with a skit of .Paak crashing his car while he himself finishes. It’s lewd and unnecessary and paints a terrible picture of the state of mainstream music.

Oxnard suffers from tremendous outside interference – the phoned-in Kendrick Lamar verse on “Tints” doesn’t even get the blood-pumping, and Dr. Dre’s assist on the mediocre “Mansa Musa” is just as baffling. It’s not all bad, the king of 2018 rap Pusha-T delivers an admirable verse on “Brother’s Keeper” and there’s a groovy bass line to boot. Snoop Dogg delivers a fine performance on “Anywhere” but the underrated Last Artful, Dodgr is barely noticeable. Oxnard’s bogged down moments of guest collaboration aren’t the only thing keeping it down - .Paak’s rapping is forgettable and uninspired. When he actually sings, he soars. But his rapping is only serviceable in small doses on Oxnard.

It’s a testament to the times that .Paak could deliver such a misfire like this after having the groundwork for success. Malibu was and still is one of the best records of 2016, possibly of the decade, but the absence of the Free Nationals, and a handful of bizarre suggestions from Dre’s producing, make Oxnard a tough album to appreciate in the current weather of the United States. And while not every cut is a waste – “Cheers” featuring Q-Tip is a smooth cut, and even with its awkward lyrical content “6 Summers” thumps, there are moments of sheer stupidity. “Left to Right” features .Paak legitimately trying to pull off a Jah-influenced verse before giving the album it’s only accessible chorus – at the very end of the album.

Oxnard’s sophomoric approach to hip-hop is beneath .Paak, but yet there will still be plenty to lap up this style of rap, so he’ll still eat. But for those of us who have grown tired of the pompous approach to rap, there’s too much filler here and not enough meat.

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