We're Still Talking About Anderson .Paak's 'Ventura' Album, Here's Why
BY KEVIN ULRICH
Combine one-part smokey vocals, two-part 70’s neo-soul, and three-part Grammy award nomination and what do you get? Anderson .Paak, of course. The Oxnard, California native serves up his fourth full-length studio album titled Ventura.
Last year's Oxnard – named after Paak’s hometown – marked a massive turn for the R&B artist who spent almost three years sculpting a follow up to his 2016 underground smash Malibu. Spearheaded by mentor and industry titan Dr. Dre, Oxnard oozed a vintage feel, multifaceted production and monster features from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T, J. Cole and many more. Combined with Anderson’s glossy vocals and razor sharp bars, Oxnard proved to be a financial success, but it left fans polarized. Less than a year later, hip hop’s very own jack-of-all-trades has come to level the playing field with his return album Ventura.
The first leg of Ventura's soul-journey kicks off with the silky smooth lead-off track “Come Home,” which lends subtle strings, staccato flutes, gorgeous piano melodies, and just a touch of horns to complement Anderson’s pleading vocals. A treat for early 2000’s rap aficionados, hip hop legend Andre 3000 closes the track with a section of his own with such clever wordplay, it might outshine Andy himself. The next track, “Make It Better,” continues the seamless trend of plush slow jams, setting the tone and serving as the benchmark sound for the rest of the album. Crooning to his beloved, Anderson spins a passionate plea to mend a relationship past its prime. Assisted by Motown icon Smokey Robinson, the track is the standout single off the record.
“Reachin’ 2 Much” and “Winner’s Circle” effortlessly meld soul and neo-funk with just the right blend of R&B to continue the philosophical and ideological themes of influential women in the life of a man long jaded by relationships past. “King James,” a track that utilizes heavy synth and classic hip hop sounds, combined with a socially relevant and community-driven message culminate in a track dripping with personality and reverence. Solidifying Ventura’s soul center “Jet Black” serves up palpable chemistry between R&B heartthrob Brandy and Anderson to a salacious effect.
While consistent, Ventura does have its dull moments in lackluster tracks, such as “Yada Yada” and “Twilight,” which suffer from tiresome lyrical content. In spite of a slower-paced second half, Ventura finishes with the heartfelt send-off track “What Can We Do?” featuring the late great Nate Dogg. Anderson working in concert with one of the 90’s most influential voices produces a song filled to the brim with love and soul. The meticulous crafting of the groovy call and response, an earworm hook, and a melancholy studio banter outro, marks a beautiful end to another solid Anderson .Paak record.
Not overly ambitious or groundbreaking, Anderson .Paak neatly slides back into the benchmarks that made him famous while adding some new and funky bells and whistles. Ventura cooly wraps up the California-themed album series in a heartwarming, soulful bow.
Lead Image Credit: Anderson .Paak / Twitter