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Review: Anderson .Paak Goes Back To His Roots With Soulful New Album 'Ventura'

Anderson .Paak is back to the style and sound he is most comfortable.
Anderson .Paak 'Ventura'

Just six months after the release of his third album Oxnard, Anderson .Paak is back with another LP Ventura. With a mountain of momentum behind him and the biggest tour of his career in the cards, the California rapper, producer and drummer has unleashed this second album that brings him back to his roots with the type of music that originally got him noticed.

Oxnard was his attempt at breaking out into the mainstream with big hooks, brash instrumentals that crossed over into funk, disco and hip-hop and collaborations with artists that most could only dream of calling up like Pusha T, Kendrick Lamar, Q-Tip and J. Cole.

Ventura is a return to the bubbly, soulful R&B-hop that helped create his rising success on early project and then the well-deserved breakout on Malibu. Just a cursory look at the features would give you an indication things were going to be different. André 3000 is on the first record “Coming Home,” but even that is a slow burning, funky jam where the Atlanta rapper arrives at the end like a slow-riding Cadillac to flow over the percussion and guitar.

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He also collaborates with legends like Smokey Robinson, who joins him on the hook for “Make It Better” as they sing about the desire to stay together. The record bridges soul and some classic 70’s funk with a touch of disco, reminiscent of Earth, Wind and Fire. While Oxnard was .Paak’s attempt to really branch out into big popular records that could crossover into different lanes, this feels like the lane that he feels most comfortable.

The record isn’t just slow jams though, as things pick up a little with the extra funky “Jet Black” that still keeps the theme of loving and then “Chosen One” with its bombastic drums, disco flourishes jittery drums and piano.

Anderson .Paak finds a way to return to the sound that made him big without retreading on the past in recycled ideas. Things still sound fresh with his ability to switch between rapping and singing giving him the versatility to carry songs and switch between different styles of music so easily. He continues to get better between each release, so the sky is the limit for .Paak.

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