I'm a big fan of Anderson Paak. Malibu was an incredible piece of music, from party joints like the single "Come Down," to more laid back cuts like "Room in Here." While I wasn't too hyped after I heard "Bubblin,'" that song didn't even end up on the album, and the lead single from the album "Tints" (featuring Kendrick Lamar) made me anticipate Paak's album a bit more. With Dr. Dre in the co-pilot seat, mixing the entire album (and lending his production chops as well (and other legendary producers like Q-Tip), I felt confident before even hearing the album that it would be a banger.
Leading with "The Chase" (featuring Kadjha Bonet), it begins with an old school soul sound, but without becoming dated. This continues into "Headlow," which hits a little harder than the preceding track, but does have a pretty explicit (and to me, unnecessary) skit at the end. "Tints" is next and feels the most familiar to an evolution (or extension) of what we heard on Malibu. Kendrick's flow is relaxed and feels more about the fun of the tune than exerting his dominance as an emcee. The production on this one is the most exciting so far, with a bouncy bass line, and a drum part that stays in the pocket for the entirety of the song. The background vocals are also reminiscent of an earlier time in soul, and are enjoyable.
Thankfully, after this track, the album (mostly) returns to the sound that preceded that song. Insofar as content, it's what you would expect from hip-hop at this point: laden with sexism, glorification of ghetto life, and overly dependent upon braggadocio. The party songs make you want to dance, and the production is consistent overall, but if you take a moment to stop and listen to the words, this album disappoints. There has to be more to rap about than women as commodities and hoped for or attained wealth. I hoped that "Trippy" with a feature from J. Cole would give a moment of fresh air, but it was the same old thing. "Cheers," which featured iconic hip-hop artist and producer, Q-Tip, ended up being my favorite track on the album, sonically. It's an extraordinary intersection between the old school sound in the composition of each arrangement being connected to modern production. Ultimately, Oxnard feels like music for the same old boy's club that hip-hop struggles to escape.