Anderson .Paak is the true definition of an artist. I feel like the music he has been able to make in the last 2-3 years has been creative, refreshing and versatile. In .Paak’s previous album, “Oxnard,” I thought he shined brighter than ever, gifting us with everything from hard-hitting rap bangers to soulful gems. In “Ventura,” the album I will be talking about below, .Paak focuses solely on soul, which I expect results in nothing but timeless hits both you and your grandparents can enjoy listening to.
5. JET BLACK
“Jet Black” sounds so watered down, doesn’t it? Matter of fact, it reminds me of music you would hear at the end of one of those corny black comedies after the protagonist gets the girl.
On Anderson’s verses on “Jet Black,” he raps tough, boasting about the fantastic relationship he has with his current lover. Will his bars blow you away? Probably not, but based off of the gentle beat attached to the song, he didn’t need to do too much on it.
Brandy hasn’t been the most active musician in the world these last couple of years, however, she does appear on this song sounding like her raspy self on the hook. Will her singing blow you away? Absolutely not.
Let’s call it how it is: This song is cheesy. Sometimes cheesy-sounding music is good, though!
Words of encouragement reverberate throughout “Twilight.”
“Twilight” is a very adorable song. Over this vivacious instrumental, Anderson sings spiritedly on it, giving advice on how he was able to bounce back from his own dark times. While this is one of many songs that give off positive vibes on this album, these positive vibes seems like it struggled to get there.
I can hear Pharrell’s imprint all over this song (Keep in mind: I didn’t even look at the credits before writing this review) — I’m talking production-wise, lyrically and structurally. S**t, I even hear him in the background a bit.
3. WHAT CAN WE DO
You can argue that Nate Dogg was the Anderson .Paak of his time back in the day. With that being said, it makes all of the sense in the world that Anderson plugged him into “What Can We Do.”
“What Can We Do” is one of those songs that makes you feel really good inside. It is powered by this gleeful instrumental, soothing vocal performances by both Anderson and Nate, and words of wisdom that anyone having trouble connecting with a lover should pay attention to. Personally, I love the chemistry between both dynamic artists on this song, especially how they make it seem like they are just chillin’ in the studio choppin’ it up.
Excuse my ignorance, but I didn’t know Nate Dogg was this great of a singer! He literally sounds like he can lead a Motown group on this song.
2. COME HOME
Andre 3000 and Anderson .Paak linking up for a song is heaven sent.
“Come Home” starts this album off right! The four and a half minute track features this vibrant instrumental that gives me visions of a sunny day in the hood. Over this instrumental, Anderson sings glowingly, describing the power this one individual has on his mental when they are around. Personally, I love the passion attached to the song, especially how it’s displayed in several different angles.
I used the word ‘passion’ to describe this song, yet Andre 3000 sounds like the cool kid in the room on it. On his verse, he makes it to the finish line utilizing a steady flow, outstanding word-play and a few complex ideas. As usual, 3000 fits by fitting out.
1. MAKE IT BETTER
Anderson .Paak has an old soul. He seems like the type of dude that still has a beeper. With that being said, a collaboration between him and Smokey Robinson makes all of the sense in the world.
“Make It Better” is an old school jam that features some passionate vocals by mainly Anderson .Paak. Content-wise, the song revolves around getting back on the same page with a lover both romantically and spiritually. Personally, I love how easy-going the song sounds, while at the same time, how daring Anderson is vocally on it. As for Smokey Robinson, I barely heard his contributions.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. COME HOME (5/5)
2. MAKE IT BETTER (5/5)
3. REACHIN’ 2 MUCH (3.5/5)
4. WINNERS CIRCLE (4/5)
5. GOOD HEELS (4.5/5)
6. YADA YADA (4/5)
7. KING JAMES (4/5)
8. CHOSEN ONE (3/5)
9. JET BLACK (4.5/5)
10. TWILIGHT (5/5)
11. WHAT CAN WE DO? (4.5/5)
Anderson .Paak is too talented for his own good. He can rap, sing, play instruments and rock nose rings like a G. In “Ventura,” he simplifies his music, which in my opinion, results in a body of work that features timeless-sounding songs that soothes the soul better than any bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch can.
The trade-off for Ventura’s timeless sound on this album is a lot less versatile, creative and powerful music. Instead, every song on this album has the same feel, with the subject-matters attached to each revolving around some kind of relationship matter. I do not have a problem with the direction Anderson chose to take on this project, but I can see fans of the singer/rapper feeling slighted that he didn’t get a chance to touch on unique topics such as smoking on something ‘trippy’ or blocking out haters with “Tints.” Let’s be real, what makes .Paak’s albums unique is that you could hear old people music mixed in with new school music, so when you take the latter away, you get just old people music.
I don’t think anyone is going to call “Ventura” a bad album if they listen to it. The music on it is solid, well-structured and pretty damn positive. Will it bore you a bit? absolutely, and that is why I recommend you play it in a setting that nurtures to the laid-back side of yourself.