Riding the success of his second album, Malibu, Anderson .Paak released his most highly anticipated project to date, Oxnard. Named after his hometown, Oxnard boasts fancy list of features, from the king of hip hop Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T, J. Cole, BJ The Chicago Kid, to old timers like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Q-Tip, to newcomers such as Kadhja Bonet and Norelle. The list might be one of the richest features list this year, yet those artists doesn’t take the spotlight away from .Paak. The 32-year-old consistently flows from one song to another with his unique, one of a kind voice.
Oxnard kicks off with the funk, jazz inspired track “The Chase”. The bold production only gets bolder as the album progresses. On “Headlow”, the African American – Korean casually boasts his experience of receiving head on a freeway over groove beat. However, sex is not the only thing .Paak talks about in this album. On “Tints”, he and Kendrick Lamar rap about the lack of privacy artists have in this digital age. .Paak and K-Dot flow harmonically on their third collaboration. On arguably the most experimental part of the album, “Who R U?”, .Paak shows his frustration towards mumble rappers of his generation on top of aggressive, drum based beats. Mumble rappers are not the only ones that frustrate .Paak, as on the next track, “6 Summers”, he rants about the political situation of America. “You was overseas stealin’ n****’s land and oil, Billy copped the Desert Eag’ and it’s legal to tote it”, .Paak spews, attacking US foreign policies and gun control.
Oxnard’s high quality of production remains consistent throughout the album, with no apparent lows and some noticeable ups like the beat switch on “Smile/Petty” that signals the transition to a much more star-studded second half of the album. On the also-experimental song “Mansa Musa”, .Paak compares himself to the Mali Emperor, flaunting his importance in the industry, further established by the appearance of Dr. Dre. On tracks such as “Brother’s Keeper”, “Anywhere”, and “Trippy”, .Paak proves that he can hold his own when he is side by side with huge stars like Pusha T, Snoop Dogg, and J. Cole. On my favorite song in this album, “Cheers”, he pays tribute to his late, close friend Mac Miller with bars such as “Shit, music business movin’ too fast for me, wishin’ I still had Mac with me”. The almost perfect run from “Anywhere” to “Sweet Chick” ushers us to the end of the album, “Left To Right”. On this funk, R&B track, .Paak celebrates his successful Beach Trilogy (Venice, Malibu, and Oxnard) in a Jamaican accent.
Overall, Oxnard is a much more experimental and diverse album than its predecessor, Malibu. .Paak took risks by incorporating more genres in this album, particularly funk, and bolder production with beat switches, two-part songs, and diverse range of instruments perfected by Dr. Dre mixing. .Paak’s fluidity is shown in this album, as he jumps from R&B funk-inspired “Tints” to banger “Who R U?”, from his hard verses on “Mansa Musa” to more laid-back “Brother’s Keeper”. Whether Oxnard is Anderson .Paak’s Magnum Opus is yet to be known, however he can consider this project a success, as Oxnard is arguably his best project to date and one of the best albums to be released this year, and the sky is the limit for him, and Oxnard provides that momentum needed for a career-defining breakthrough moment.