The Oracle

Anderson Paak vibes in Oxnard

Ned Wawrzyn, staff reporter

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Anderson Paak is an incredibly versatile hip hop/soul artist. His album Malibu exemplifies this with its combination of funk, R&B and the occasional hip hop verse from Paak or a guest. Even though Malibu was pretty long at one hour, it was really consistent and established Paak as a rising star in hip hop. So my expectations were pretty high for Oxnard, Paak’s most recent album, seeing all the great musicians involved like Dr. Dre and 9th Wonder. I would not say that Oxnard blew me away, but I found it to be a pretty enjoyable album with some really great songs.

First off, the song “Tints” is my favorite song on the record. “Tints” has an excellent neo-soul instrumental, and Paak raps over it well. The hook to the song is infectious, and it’s always stuck in my head. Kendrick Lamar also has a guest feature on the song that goes over really well. The Kendrick verse feels like a throwback to To Pimp a Butterfly with its funky and soulful instrumental.

Another great song on Oxnard is “6 Summers.” It starts off with a free-flowing vibe to it. Paak loudly proclaims about how Trump’s daughter is going to “kiss señoritas and black gals.” I interpret this beginning as an analogy for America and how Americans are going to rebel against the Trump administration. The beat then switches, and Paak goes into the various things plaguing America today, specifically gun violence. The song gives off a hopeful vibe that these things can change and that we, as Americans, can rebel against the injustice in this country.

The album is slightly underwhelming to me, though, because there are a good amount of songs that are just mediocre. The song “Who R U?” reveals a lot of the overarching problems I have with this project. “Who R U?” has an electronic sounding instrumental, and does not play to Paak’s strengths with all the subpar verses it has. When I listen to Paak, I am looking for some excellent live instrumentation, not mediocre electronic instrumentals. What makes Paak special is how he is a swiss army knife in terms of how he is a great singer, rapper and even drummer. Paak is mostly rapping on Oxnard and there is very little singing and live drumming. The production is consistently good on Oxnard, but Paak’s rapping is not good enough to hold my attention for the entire project. Songs like “Who R U?”, “Mansa Musa”, “Anywhere”, and “Trippy” are just not that interesting and I do not see myself returning to them.

I thought Oxnard was good, but not great. There are definitely some real highlights like “Tints”, “6 Summers”, and “The Chase”, but it is brought down by some pretty mediocre songs. I’m definitely looking forward to whatever Paak releases next.

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Anderson Paak vibes in Oxnard