Just 5 months ago, Anderson .Paak released his first album under Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label titled “Oxnard”. (See Review Here) While the album wasn’t bad, the consensus was that it sounded different than what fans were used to hearing from .Paak. I’m not sure if .Paak had already planned to release a second album this quick, or if he decided to do it because of the reaction to his last project. Nevertheless, .Paak’s album “Ventura” is sure to get a much better reaction.
To me, this album sounds like what I expected “Oxnard” to sound like. There are rumors that Dre may be trying to change .Paak’s sound, which resulted in the Oxnard album. While I don’t know if that’s completely true, I do believe that “Ventura” sounds much more like the .Paak from “Malibu”. It it soulful, full of melody, full of drums and has much less of .Paak rapping. While I enjoy his rapping, I believe that Oxnard had too much of it and not enough of his smooth singing.
This project starts off amazingly with a track featuring the legend Andre 3000. The 43 year old rapper spits a creative verse and shows that age has only made him better. The second track, “Make It Better” is my personal favorite on the album and is also in the running for my favorite Anderson .Paak song period. The song is beautiful, smooth, relatable and catchy. It also features another legend, Smokey Robinson, whose voice sounds amazing alongside .Paak’s. Some other favorites of mine are “King James” and “Winner’s Circle”.
The entire album is just vintage .Paak. A solid mix of funky, jazzy, smooth and upbeat. His features were all well thought out and well placed. I feel that his last project had too many mainstream rappers forced into it as opposed to voices that would work well sonically with .Paak’s typical vibe.
Overall, I really enjoy this project and after just a couple listens, I was able to place it above “Oxnard”. While I’m glad that .Paak signed with Dre, if this is the music that .Paak makes when working solo, maybe he should stay isolated a bit more often.