If you live in London, you’re probably cold, wet, and miserable today. Maybe Oxnard will make you happier for 56 minutes
Glistening chimes and the dulcet tones of Kadhja Bonnet herald the greatly anticipated Oxnard before pared-down hip-hop beats and Anderson .Paak’s rasping rap come in with smooth melodies and chirruping flute adornments rippling underneath. And this opening track ‘The Chase’ sets the tone for the album; exuding a resplendent suavity as Paak blends soulful-funk with snarling rap and uncompromising attitude joined by a star-studded array of fellow hip-hop artists including Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Snoop Dogg as well as of course Dr. Dre, on whose label Aftermath Records Oxnard is released.
Named after the Californian coastal town where Paak was born, Oxnard offers the final instalment of his “beach series” of releases, the others being 2016’s critically acclaimed Malibu and Paak’s 2014 debut Venice. Across the fourteen tracks, Paak delivers heady tales of hedonism imbued with moments of social commentary, like the politically edged ‘6 Summers’ that references Trump and gun violence and nods to Gil Scott Heron’s “the revolution will not be televised”.
There’s an undeniable summery vibe to the whole record that almost makes you forget the wintery chill in the air. ‘Tints’ stands out as a breezy, sunshine-filled jam that soars with glowing melodies and sees Kendrick Lamar join Paak for the ride. And throughout the record, there’s a kind of defiant, at times juvenile, playfulness that cruises through the tracks. Yet ultimately what Anderson .Paak demonstrates on the record is his musical versatility, coasting through his particular blend of hip-hop come soul-and-funk ambience with laid-back levity.
The tracks glide from the brooding, confrontational rhythms and rap of ‘Who R U?’ to the nostalgia-tinted languor of ‘Anywhere’, featuring Snoop Dogg, or the ethereal, hazy R&B tinged ‘Trippy’, which sees J. Cole rapping alongside Paak. A record that covers a lot of ground with its sounds and narratives, at times gritty at others jovial, Oxnard bristles with character and a distinct vivacity, overall comprising a compelling listen.