Anderson .Paak gets the full Aftermath treatment on his latest release, complete with the requisite cameos from Snoop and Doc Dre. With a lighter feel than 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly – it seems the crew at Aftermath has a formula for taking an artist from the state of burgeoning international superstar to a hip-hop household name.
Anderson .Paak is the next of Dr. Dre’s chosen: a pedigree that includes the biggest names in rap 30 years running – Eazy E, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 cent, The Game, Kenrick Lamar, and now .Paak.
“This is the album I dreamed of making in high school, when I was listening to The Blueprint, The Game’s The Documentary, and College Dropout.” – Anderson .Paak
Despite its adherence to the new school of West Coast Funk, and despite .Paak’s brilliant performance as MC – Oxnard does not feel like it will have the staying power of 1993’s Doggystyle, 2005’s The Documentary, or Kendrick’s DAMN.
Still, this album bumps.
Like .Paak’s 2016 breakthrough Malibu, this newest installment exists somewhere between R&B and hip-hop. Dr. Dre himself made heavy contributions to the album’s production and was assisted by producer-legends Om’Mas Keith, 9th Wonder, Chris Dave and Madlib.
The result feels like a return home for Dre who pioneered West Coast Funk in the mid 90’s. “This the beat that makes me reminisce on G-funk,” raps Snoop on the 10th track Anywhere. And while the influence of those early days is present, it is more a testament to the modern incarnation of the genre –in the way of Terrace Martin, Dam-Funk and Thundercat – as well as to Dre’s continued relevance on the scene.
Anderson .Paak collaborated with fellow Aftermath superstar Kendrick Lamar on Tints, the first single from Oxnard, released October 4.
.Paak brings his unique vocal flair that fans have come to associate with him to his lyrics. He sings catchy hooks and breaks in a raspy tenor, raps sonorously and splits syllables with adherence to rules of pitch and meter.
Whereas Malibu dazzled fans with its seamless blend of rap, R&B, soul and funk, Oxnard is more easily classified as rap album. It is at once soulful and groovy – but overall the production feels like it’s drawing on Kanye West’s Wyoming sessions – most specifically on the West-produced Pusha T album Daytona.
Oxnard bears distinction from previous Aftermath releases for its warmth and playfulness. .Paak seems to bring exuberance and energy to everything he does. He becomes emotive on the 12th track Cheers where he pays homage to the late Mac Miller. “I wish I still had Mac with me,” .Paak raps, “but how you tell a n***** slow down when you going just as fast as em.” But overall, the album is ripe with high-energy verses, catchy hooks and humorous intros/outros.
.Paak and Mac Miller collaborated on 2016’s Dang!
Anderson .Paak raps on 6 Summers, “This shit gon’ bang at least 6 Summers,” and it very well could. It’s catchy, .Paak’s flow is infectious, the production drips with groove and funk. But, it’s not hip-hop canon. And for better or worse, that’s what the public has come to expect from anything blessed by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine.
All the same, as a follow up to Malibu, this third and final installment of .Paak’s beach series of albums is by no means a disappointment. It is fun through and through and pulls on a wide variety of influences and genres. Anderson .Paak remains one of the most interesting talents in modern music, and we wait eagerly for whatever comes next.