Album Review: Oxnard
Anderson .Paak's third studio album, released on November 16th, 2018.
"We'll get back to all that ghetto shit we like..."
YES LAWD! Anderson .Paak is one of the most soulful artists of this new generation of Hip-hop and R&B, with his very distinct classy but modern sound. After a very successful sophomore album with Malibu, he was signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records. .Paak is very soulful, but can easily drop bars, as he showed in his LA Leakers freestyle. With the icon Dr. Dre mixing the entire album, Anderson .Paak's musical brilliance, and features from hip-hop legends, Aftermath presented the world with Oxnard, which happens to also be Anderson .Paak's hometown.
Track 1: The Chase (feat. Kadhja Bonet) (8/10)
The album opens with the sounds of Southern California, the listener can hear the beach, seagulls and even a small breeze, as the song takes a first person view and you get into your car. Once you close your door, you turn on the radio and change it over to the Oxnard.
The song truly begins with a soothing female voice, and then the intricate production that only Dr. Dre could provide is heard. This song feels and sounds like the introduction to a soul concert, as .Paak's smooth but quick lyrics calm the listener and get them ready to experience to the rest of the album in the right mind state. Great introduction.
Track 2: Headlow (feat. Norelle) (9.5/10)
This record feels like something you'd hear in a small, downtown club. The smooth, water-like background of the beat entices the listener, and Anderson .Paak tells the story of getting road head. You wouldn't know due to the smoothness of the song, but all that is interrupted with the skit at the end that wraps it all together. This was a brilliant concept, giving listeners a story, smooth music, and some comedic relief all in one.
Track 3: Tints (feat. Kendrick Lamar) (10/10)
"Tints" was Oxnard's first single, released on October 4th, 2018. This song is the perfect transition from "Headlow", as tinted windows are a great addition to your car, especially when you're participating in promiscuous activities. This isn't the message of the record however, as Anderson .Paak speaks about keeping to himself, handling business while keeping others out of it, hence needing "tints". .Paak also speaks on being in the spotlight, but still trying to keep some of his life personal. This is a fun track with a great message of the good (and bad, as shown in the music video) of the things you keep to yourself.
Kendrick flows into the song excellently after the first chorus, and begins to speak on the topic for himself. K. Dot brags about his lifestyle, but let's people know that he doesn't want people in his business as he raps, "...like, can you buy that, nigga? Nine hunnid horse, can you drive that, nigga? A G5, can you fly that, nigga? I need tints, so I can look at the snakes and posers, 'cause bomb head is non-disclosure(I need tint) So I can live with a peace of mind, without niggas takin' a piece of mine...". The second half of these bars are a nod to fellow legend Andre 3000, using a similar play on words from his intro on "Return of the G", from Outkast's classic album, Aquemini.
The music video is a great visual for the track, as it shows people leading many double lives or the secrets behind the "tints". Many people only show certain people everything, and some people keep their personal demons to themselves, as flawlessly displayed in this music video.
Track 4: Who R U? (8.5/10)
"Who R U?" was Oxnard's second single, released on November 9th, 2018. This track is less than three minutes, but gets to the point with a semi-hard beat, one that pairs well with the bars that .Paak delivers. He speaks on how he knew he'd eventually be doing music with Dre, his old ways, and even gets political. One of Anderson .Paak's most direct bars on the song are "World peace, niggas talk about 'Don't shoot', tell that to police, mmm...". This line didn't have to be very long to get the point across, blacks are being killed and there needs to be an end to it. "Who R U?" is a great follow up single to preview the album, and it fits very well in it's tracklist placement.
Track 5: 6 Summers (10/10)
This is one of the more blatantly political tracks on the album, with .Paak starting the song off blasting Donald Trump for having an illegitimate child. In 2018, a former Trump Tower doorman claimed to have information on an affair that Trump had with a housekeeper, one that resulted in a child. Anderson painting the picture of a daughter that Trump would hate isn't the only political thing mentioned however. .Paak uses female vocals to offer a modern take on Gil Scott-Heron's 1970 "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised", as she says, "The revolution will not be televised...But it will be streamed live, in 1080p, on your pea-brain head in the face ass mobile device...Alright?!". This statement, while funny, has been proven true in recent years, with events such as the Ferguson riots being seen live around the country as they happened.
The continuous chant of "This shit gon' bang at least six summers...but ain't gon change for at least 3 summers" is .Paak's way of counting down to the end of Trump's potential end as president, whether he wins or loses the next election, 2024 and 2021 respectively. The political talk doesn't end there however, as Anderson .Paak speaks on gun violence and the need for gun law reform over the beautiful second beat of this track. This is another instrumental that sounds like it's being performed live at a downtown club, with Anderson speaking to the people directly, and in this case, speaking to the listener directly. He talks about school shootings, police brutality, Trump's Twitter rants, and even gives a double meaning shoutout to Kurt Cobain and John Coltrane, two famous musicians that are also names of marijuana strains (Cole Train and Kobain Kush). With these two artists suffering from substance abuse during there careers, the chant "And so I smoke, drink, just to cope with the pain...Get the Coltrane and the Cobain..." shows the dangers of living in a dangerous society and having nowhere to turn.
Track 6: Saviers Road (8.5/10)
Oxnard is not only the album title, its the next city heading up the Southern California coast after Malibu, and Oxnard also happens to be Anderson .Paak's hometown. Saviers Road is an ode to his hometown, with that road actually being the name of a main street in the city of Oxnard. This song is a huge double entendre, with it beginning with a chorus that compares selling drugs to selling someone a vision. During the song's break, Anderson quotes Luke 23:34, the words of Jesus, when he said "Lord forgive them, for they know not what they do" as he hung from the cross.
During his verse, Anderson speaks about his upbringing and how he still had the vision of being an industry success, despite his odds. He mentions his mother's arrest, she was locked up when he was 17 (she was charged with charged with not declaring her gambling winnings and "moving securities illegally"). .Paak ends the songs with the chorus and says again, "I would sell you faith, but you niggas don't believe...", talking to all the doubters and naysayers.
Track 7: Smile/Petty (9/10)
This is actually two tracks, but they are two sides of the same coin in a sense, so they had to go together. Anderson speaks to a problematic woman he's in a complicated relationship with. He accepts his own personal issues as he sings, "And you have to pardon me, 'cause I am a dog, you see...and if you lead me to the park, I'd break up off the leash...". After claiming his own sins, he then turns to speak on the woman's issues, with the lyrics, "Spillin' bleach in the laundry bag and stressin' my momma...pushin' dents in my armor, scratchin', dentin' my Pontiac...Bitch, are you off your shit?!" He threatens to get a new woman in his life, and then you hear a woman stop the music, and the next beat begins.
On the "Petty" side of the track, Anderson .Paak speaks on presumably the same woman, as things have gotten worse for him, "My lady drives me high up the wall...she keeps me up and locked in the bathin' room...Why am I screamin' at the top of my lungs...when she can't hear a word that I say to her?". .Paak then speaks to her calling her petty, hence the second title, and then sing the break over the smooth beat. This song is a great change of pace for the album.
Track 8: Mansa Musa (feat. Dr. Dre & Cocoa Sarai) (8.5/10)
This track is named after the African king that not many people speak about or even know about. Mansa Musa was the King of the Mali empire and is actually still considered to be the richest person to have ever lived. He once gave away so much gold that it's value went down. Here, Anderson compares himself to the king, as the chorus states, "Back on my bullshit! I got some money to blow, I'm lookin' good, bitch! Even as the king, I stay hood rich...".
Cocoa Sarai has a short first verse, however she doesn't miss an opportunity to pay homage to Dr. Dre and N.W.A. as she raps, "Now if you owe me mine, better run it, a hunnid miles and runnin', yeah, I'm comin', still gunnin'...". After her verse ends, Dr. Dre comes in for his sole official feature on the album. He starts his verse by throwing shade on the current state of hip-hop as he raps, "Now I've been on some different shit lately, like I need to dumb it down for this hip hop scene...Like I only come around for this type shit here...". He also speaks on his secluded ways within the industry and even on his billionaire status, which he achieved in 2014 with the sale of Beats Electronics to Apple Incorporated. Anderson has the third and final verse, full of his rendition of braggadocios rap, as he speaks on people acting rich but being broke versus his success. He even pays homage to an old Dave Chappelle skit with the lines "...they should have never gave you niggas money!". This is a fun track that sets up a great final six tracks.
Track 9: Brother’s Keeper (feat. Pusha T) (10/10)
On this record, .Paak and Pusha both speak on being your "brother's keeper", which harkens back to a the Bible story of Cain and Abel. However, this track doesn't have such an extreme outlook on the subject, as Anderson speaks positively to the listener in his verse. .Paak talks about the fake brothers that people have in life by using the example of Judas, who betrayed Jesus and gave him up to the Romans for 30 pieces of silver, with the lines, "If Jesus would've had a better lawyer would he have to see the cross? I hope your niggas is true, I hope they don't do you like Judas...I pray to God...".
As Anderson's first verse comes to an end, Pusha T comes in and talks about his brother, No Malice. The two brothers made up the hip-hop duo Clipse from 1992 until 2010. No Malice, who went by Malice at the time, became a born again Christian in November of 2012, and the group had to disband, and Pusha T continued on as a solo act. In 2013, No Malice decided not to tour with his brother for their debut solo album's, Lord Willin', 10th anniversary, which was also declining big money. During his verse, Pusha reveals he has no hard feelings against his brother and loves him despite his choice to stop rapping about the lifestyle they once lived together, but that he can't stop and will continue to do so.
When Pusha T's verse ends, the beat changes into one of the smoothest song outros that I've heard in a long time. The beat takes hold of you, and when you hear the whispery background vocals of Anderson .Paak, you can feel it in your soul as they chant, "How I ever...ever let you go?" and you almost can't help but sing along. Anderson brings back the soul as he sings about going through changes as a man.
Track 10: Anywhere (feat. Snoop Dogg & the Last Artful, Dodgr) (10/10)
This record pays homage to the G-Funk era, as it features one the era's most successful and famous artists, as well as one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time, Snoop Dogg. Snoop speaks on his youth during his verse, as he raps about gang banging in the late 80s and even the fact that he wasn't going to rap, and thanks his eventual 213 group members, and fellow G Funk pioneers, Warren G and cousin, the late Nate Dogg, for getting him to continue with hip-hop before he got his break with Dr. Dre on Death Row Records.
Anderson .Paak begins his verse shouting out legendary R&B groups, such as H-Town, El DeBarge, and Total. He continues his barrage of paying homage as he somehow gets a shoutout to the group Xscape in a line where he's also referencing the Bad Boy Records group 112 and their classic single that had the same title as this record. The chorus is when the silky smooth beat and .Paak's soulful artistry meet flawlessly. .Paak lets a woman know exactly what's going on, as if all the R&B references weren't enough, as he sings, "Tonight, baby, I want your love on time...As soon as I put this on..." and then a rendition of One Way's 1982 hit "Cutie Pie" hits you in the soul as you hear, "Cutie pie, you're the reason why...I love ya so and I'll never let you go..." as .Paak continues singing "As soon as I put this on...". This song is a clear example of not only Anderson .Paak's knowledge of the history of music, but his own skill as a lyricist, songwriter, and a musician.
Track 11: Trippy (feat. J. Cole) (10/10)
The end of "Anywhere" flows into a 1983 comedic sample of Rodney Dangerfield and Johnny Carson, as Dangerfield jokes about his own love/sex life. as that fades out, .Paak comes in and delivers a smooth pre-chorus and chorus for the record, then begins his verse. Anderson's verse is short but smooth and sets up J. Cole for another excellent feature to add to his 2018 collection of features.
J. Cole opens up his verse talking about how he's viewed when it comes to material things, as he raps, "I ain't gotta prove to you that I got bread, niggas talkin' money but be broker than the bed, that I slept on back in Mohammed crib...". Cole then speaks about a woman in his past, with the words, "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...". He then raps about finding her again, and then ends the verse telling her that he'll find her again if he does lose her, as he says, "If somehow we both lose touch, I won't lie, ya got me open way too much, I'm gon' find ya...". Anderson then comes back in and delivers a smooth chorus, and as the song fades out, the listener can hear the beach, reminding you that on this album, you're along the California coast.
Track 12: Cheers (feat. Q-Tip) (10/10)
This record comes in hitting with the funky bass line, and Anderson comes in very strong opening lines, as he says, "I'm workin' on a world premiere...and I could see the world from here". On this track however, Anderson and Q-Tip pay homage to their recently lost friends, Mac Miler and Phife Dawg, respectively. .Paak asks himself how he could've told Mac to slow down with him being in the fast paced music business as well. This isn't a sad song though, as the two artists celebrate their lost friends with a toast, which leads us to the title of the track, Cheers. The main message you can take way from this record is to make sure you celebrate and enjoy your friends and family while their here, and if you do lose them, don't be too down...celebrate their lives.
Track 13: Sweet Chick (feat. BJ the Chicago Kid) (10/10)
This record reminds me heavily of Jay-Z's 2001 hit, "Girls, Girls, Girls", but a much more soulful version, as Anderson .Paak and BJ the Chicago Kid name off the different women they've had respectively over the somewhat bouncy soul beat. This is a very fun track, and after BJ's verse, the beat calms down and smooths out. .Paak begins another verse, but it's hilariously cut short as the "gangsta boo" he previously mentioned in the song busts into the studio and threatens him at gunpoint for "fuckin' with other bitches". Life is hard out here for a pimp.
Track 14: Left to Right (9/10)
For Oxnard's final track, Anderson .Paak takes on a Jamaican accent and directs a party over this funky beat. Despite this being a fun track, Anderson doesn't miss an opportunity to take a funny shot at Trump with the line, "Real life, I know you miss me like you miss Obama...". This bonus track is a lively way to end a beautifully crafted album.
In my opinion, Oxnard is one of the top 10 albums of 2018. Anderson .Paak signing with Dr. Dre elevated him to a new level as an artist, as .Paak's expertise as a musician meshed with Dre's expertise as a producer flawlessly, as you hear in the mixing and production throughout the album. Anderson didn't lose himself signing to a bigger label in Aftermath, he only grew more as an artist, branched out a little bit, and is starting to get some of the recognition that he's deserved this entire time. Classy modern music doesn't really have a stronghold in the industry today, but Anderson .Paak is leading the way for the subgenre. YES LAWD!
Album Rating (10/10)