If I could only use one word to describe Anderson .Paak’s new album, it would be “Groovy” with a capital G.
With “Ventura,” .Paak returns to the mellow tones that gained him his initial audience. While his albums “Oxnard” and “Malibu” had a certain appeal, their sounds were different from his early content.
“Oxnard” especially relied on excessively suggestive lyrics that turned away many of his earliest fans. .Paak’s talents shine better in his works as a producer and instrumentalist, rather than a rapper, and having an album rely on his lyrical ability is a risk.
The new album’s solution to this is by having short breakdowns within several songs where a featured rapper delivers in a mesmerizing solo. “Come Home” provides a rare Andre 3000 feature. His unique flow over the smooth beats and quick percussive hits are distinct from the rest of the song, and his rate slowly accelerates until it culminates with a return to the instrumental.
Another song that really stands out is “Reachin’ 2 Much” featuring Lalah Hathaway. The easygoing beat combined with spirited drum hits and sweet singing exudes an incredible vibe. It has a strong resemblance to “TINTS” featuring Kendrick Lamar from .Paak’s album “Oxnard”—which is a good thing.
“TINTS” is one of .Paak’s most popular songs. “Reachin’ 2 Much” taking after “TINTS” is both a blessing and a curse.
In “King James,” .Paak celebrates black activism. The title is a reference to Cleveland’s own LeBron James who, besides bringing the Cleveland Cavaliers a championship, started several community programs for at-risk youth.
The song also references former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, known for protesting police brutality and an apparent blacklisting from league owners.
Throughout the song .Paak does not change his tone or flow. Listeners may do a double-take when .Paak talks about children dead in the streets in the same cheerful tone he discusses fighting for equality. It is an interesting choice and brings the song a fresh feel on every listen.
“Ventura” is an elegant fusion between Anderson .Paak’s original style and his more experimental albums. While some of the songs are outstanding and the album overall is good, it is nothing special. It is worth at least one listen, if not more. “Ventura” is, indeed, “Groovy.” 7.5/10