Anderson .Paak’s “Oxnard” is the funkiest rap album you’ll hear today

Anderson .Paak’s “Oxnard” is the funkiest rap album you’ll hear today

Only Anderson .Paak can make a funky song about a hypothetical Donald Trump love-child that will have me bopping my head vigorously, maybe even with an occasional “yes lawd!” in exclamation. He’s just that ridiculously charismatic, and Oxnard manages to capture his ambitious musical vision, as well as his sheer energy, into a sonically diverse 14-track record.

The album is a stylistic departure from its predecessor, Malibu. Where the previous project felt like a relaxed, come-hither introduction to his musical prowess, Oxnard, on the other hand, has no trouble being all up in our faces that Anderson .Paak’s a damn good musician–and a successful one at that. The record sees Paak’s efforts to break the ceiling on his potential, with a slew of genre-bending tracks that go from his now signature jazzy rap, to a g-funk homage, to even a dancehall-esque track. The blurring of lines between genres seems so effortless to the Oxnard native, and it’s intoxicating to witness the products of his playtime.

The blurring of lines between genres seems so effortless to the Oxnard native, and it’s intoxicating to witness the products of his playtime.

Star tracks from the record include “Tints”, a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar that features a bouncing bass riff coupled with plucky hi-hats and bright piano synth that makes you feel like you’re driving down the freeway under a warm California sun—in a snazzy vintage Cadillac, of course. “Who R U?” follows the track in a sudden shift to a grittier, thumping beat that compliments the strong boss-man anthem, delivering punches of attitude like a tag team with Paak’s cocky bars on not recognizing his haters. “Anywhere” is also a notable track that’s chock-full of references that romance the glory days of 90’s g-funk, with the smooth stylings of Snoop Dogg as an apt feature to boot.

It would be too good to be true if all those risks didn’t come with repercussions, and Oxnard wasn’t able to avoid a few fallouts as it tried to skyrocket past its limits.

It would be too good to be true if all those risks didn’t come with repercussions, and Oxnard wasn’t able to avoid a few fallouts as it tried to skyrocket past its limits. The track “Left and Right”, a confusing choice for a closer, had Paak rapping in a fake patois accent in a questionable attempt at dancehall music. His collaboration with J. Cole titled “Trippy” was unfortunately pretty meh and left much to be desired lyrically, especially considering the formidable amount of talent between the two. Nevertheless, a few misses doesn’t matter much compared to the resounding hits the project has to offer.

Oxnard is Paak’s foray into an unbridled exploration of his capabilities, and his innovative twists and turns are geared to lead up to him earning a seat alongside the greats.

Even though a large chunk of the project is essentially about sex, fame, and money—hardly a new topic in rap—Paak tackles the narratives in a nuanced, almost whimsical manner that still makes it refreshing to listen to, largely due to his overflowing charisma that translates into his work. But more than anything, Oxnard is Paak’s foray into an unbridled exploration of his capabilities, and his innovative twists and turns are geared to lead up to him earning a seat alongside the greats.

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Giselle Barrientos
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