Anderson .Paak displays his diverse flow and complex feelings in his latest album, “Oxnard.” From earnest political perspectives to carefree party jams, .Paak flexes his range. His funky sound is enhanced with four of the fourteen songs produced by legendary Dr. Dre.
Paak (or A.P. like Dr. Dre calls him) is not afraid to express his opinion on subjects ranging from rap to politics. In “Who R U?,” A.P. says, “Back in my day, woulda had your whole face smacked/Look at you n-ggas, wonder why I f-cking hate rap.” This sounds like he’s calling out the rappers who claim a lifestyle they have never encountered before. In his song, “6 Summers,” A.P. shares his support for gun reform and the anxiety that comes from the possibility of a second term by President Donald Trump. The hook says, “This sh-t gon’ bang for at least 6 summers”—the amount of summers the U.S. would endure if Trump were re-elected. A.P. also says, “We need peace and less long gunners/put down your heat and smoke marijuana.” (The word “heat” is slang for gun.)
A.P. also shines in his more joyful and lighthearted songs that you can bump in your car with the windows down. In the song “Sweet Chick” A.P. recalls the lyrics of Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” when he talks about relationships with various women with different styles and personalities. In “Smile/Petty,” a woman who gets under his skin, even though he doesn’t want her to leave in the end. The hit single “Tints” featuring Kendrick Lamar talks about living a private life and avoiding the hungry media. Although the song’s beat is energetic and uplifting, the lyrics may have a darker meaning. A.P. and Lamar tint their cars for protection. A.P. says, “Paparazzi wanna shoot ya, shoot ya/ n-ggas dyin’ for less out here.”
The sounds on “Oxnard” are tricky to define because .Paak takes inspiration from almost every generation. A.P. shoots you into the ’70’s disco era in “The Chase,” with its rapid high hats and groovy bass line—then to ’80’s Miami in “Smile” featuring a wavy synthesizer, and ’90’s Compton in “Petty” characterized by a heavy bassline and choppy flow.The early 2000’s is represented on “Headlow” with its glossy new millennial R&B sound. Contemporary hip-hop tracks like “Saviers Road” and “Brothers’ Keeper” prove .Paak can hold his own against his peers.
“Oxnard” has quality features from some of the best in the rap game. Besides the legendary Lamar, J. Cole, Pusha-T and Q-Tip grace fans with some of the best verses on the album. Pusha-T spits, “They still asking ‘bout the duo/ Applaud his finding salvation/ But I’m still rhyming ‘bout the you know.” The Virginia Beach native is talking about his relationship with his brother Malice and other half of the Clipse who has since found God after feeling guilt about his drug-dealing past.
In “Trippy,” Cole says, “Used to have a honey that I loved when we was young but somehow got disconnected before Facebook got so big.” Regarding Cole’s verse, he wonders if the woman would still feel the same way about him considering his fame and popularity. The Abstract (Q-Tip) reminisces about his late friend and bandmate Phife Dawg. “Back in the day before you were a dog and you were just a pup/ Bangin’ beats and bringin’ b-tches back to the tour bus.” Snoop Dogg also has a verse on the album that is sure to give fans a feeling of nostalgia. “Ooh, summertime time back in Long Beach/ Passin’ one bottle, forty ounce old E.”
.Paak’s third studio album has more commercial potential than his previous albums thanks to Dr. Dre. Although the album is produced by the Compton OG, his tone is only felt on a handful of songs while the rest are what you expect from .Paak—plenty of funk, soul and R&B. “Oxnard” offers a refreshing sound that contrasts with a lot of the music that has saturated the airwaves as of late. .Paak reminds fans of his many talents and shows that you don’t need mumble rap in order to excel in this climate.