Tipped by Loyle Carner as a future Glastonbury headliner, and with Stormzy topping the bill this year you wouldn’t disregard the rapper’s predictions, Anderson. Paak has reigned in fans from far and near with his blend of American Soul, Jazz and new wave hip hop. A frequent collaborator of Montreal producer KAYTRANADA, .Paak has a knack for switching between feisty flows, that could slip onto an NWA record, and harmonious choruses that Kelis would be proud of.
‘Oxnard’ treats us to a rich feature list, consisting of current stars like Kendrick Lamar and hip hop hero’s like Dr Dre, who undoubtedly cultivated the raw American sounds into the more accessible sonics we know it as today. The Californian born musician draws on inspiration from the gritty Compton instrumentals America fell in love with centuries ago, but weaves in scintillatingly vibrant layers of singalong soul and gospel. ‘Smile/Pretty’ utilises this contrast, keeping your ears intrigued and body grooving.
You cannot discount Paak’s musical talents. If you have seen him live, you will know he dominates the stage, switching frantically between instruments like a mad scientist experimenting with a fusion of chemicals. This energy, for the most part, translates into the course of the record - ‘Brother’s Keeper’ is a standout. The twangy guitar riff ripples below ..Paak’s unique ability to tell stories; Pusha absolutely kills it as well, offering a heartwarming verse over a trappy beata switch up. There’s a serious amount of depth to this tune, a lot of layers to get your teeth stuck into.
Sometimes however, I feel this slightly backfires. Occasionally, it is hard to bathe in the luxury of .Paak’s R&B rhythms; they can come across as prickly and rely on high profile guest appearances to salvage the songs. ‘Cheers’ sees the worst of this problem, getting Q-Tip on a tune is such a coup; real coupAnderson has a distinctive interest in the powers of the past, but the production beneath Q-Tip simply doesn’t compare to the flow of the ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ member. However, maybe this is purposeful, and done to exemplify the lyrical abilities of Tip instead of the production capabilities of .paak and Dr. Dre.
Anderson arguably tries too much on this record, we know he has the capacity to manufacture any sound his mind wishes, but this doesn’t mean he has to put it all into one body of work. I would have loved to see him pursue his strongest ideas, and save the ones that need a bit more developing for the next LP. However, how can you ever knock an album that fabricates the imagery of Lesbian Donald Trump offspring; on 6 Summers Anderson spits ‘Trump’s got a love child/and I hope that bitch is buck wild/I hope she kisses Señoritas and black girls.’ The humorous, provocative nature of the opening 2 minutes of ‘6 Summers’ is a rather blatant diss on the out of favour American President, summing up all the neutrals rather pessimistic view of the scummy spear head of US Politics.
At 32 years of age, Anderson .Paak does stilll have one of the most introspective voices in R&B, so give his new project a listen. See what you think.