ANDERSON .Paak isn’t far from the beach, but he’s certainly left the shore. His latest set, “Oxnard,” whisks fans from the ocean breeziness of his Grammy-nominated second album “Malibu,” and waves them into the passenger seat for a gritty, funk-filled ride further into his hometown in Southern California, for which the new album is named.
The trip is nothing short of thrilling. Paak’s collaboration with executive producer Dr. Dre is a beautiful thing, with their expert wielding of a seemingly endless range of instruments, including high-flying flute, chimes and drums. And that’s just to name the pieces that come together on album-opener “The Chase,” which sounds perfectly fit for the soundtrack of a 1970s Blaxploitation film.
Paak dons a 90’s vibe on the Snoop Dogg-assisted “Anywhere,” and he takes cues from other genres, too, like on the island-tinged “Saviers Road,” where he shouts out his doubters and details the struggle of his come-up. “I was somewhere in between giving up, and doing a sentence.,” he raps of life a decade ago.
Upbeat singles “Tints” featuring Kendrick Lamar and “Who R U?” are no-brainer wins for Paak, and with guests like J. Cole on the lovely, soulful “Trippy,” the odds are in Paak’s favor. But he succeeds when he pushes the envelope, too, like on standout track “6 Summers,” where he delves into the issue of gun violence.
“There’s money to be made in the killing spree/that’s why he trying to start a war on the Twitter feed,” Paak spits, before he returns to his refrain: “Pop, pop, pop goes the shooter/reform, reform shoulda came sooner.” And, if it is not clear who Paak is addressing, he makes it obvious, adding: “Dear Mr. President/it’s evident that you don’t give a damn…”
Even with a house full of guests, and veteran Dre at his side, Paak seems to be in control, revealing new sounds and layers, serving up a solid (and-then-some) set. (AP)