Anderson .paak - Ventura
Anderson .paak had some explaining to do after his last album Oxnard. The massive departure of an album left people scratching their heads at where in the hell Anderson .paak went and who exactly this impostor was. The record was clunky, disjointed and a celebration of his new success that felt hollow and uninspired. The smooth grooves of old were replaced with some hard rapping and self indulgence we had not seen from him. That's why this record needed to be better, much better to bring things back around. Well, I don't know if Anderson was listening, but this album is just the cleanser that you needed after Oxnard. The record opens with a rare feature from Andre 3000 that absolutely warms the soul. It just gets better when Smokey Robinson makes an appearance on the second track "Make it Better". It's like Anderson realized He was actually the heir to the Motown sound and took up the moniker rather than running away from it. The bluster and self congratulatory vibes have evaporated and in their place are some of the warmest grooves you could ask for. the first three tracks flow like fucking butter as "Reachin' 2 Much" shifts pace on a dime with it all easily flowing out of Anderson. So much of this record relies on the strength of Anderson's band: slick bass lines, popping drums and gentle guitars makes for something that just works. "Winners Circle" is the right kind of celebration, the kind that fits with Anderson's style rather than focus on some bluster that isn't really his. You have to think Dr. Dre might have pushed Anderson in one direction for Oxnard, but here He realizes his roots are where all the goodness truly lies.
It seems a bit ridiculous to talk about the massive change from one album to the next in under a year but it is startling. This record is also much shorter and concise. Anderson finds his voice again and it's fucking lovely. "King James" a homage to Los Angeles, it's new NBA superstar and Political Action but that is just a jumping off point for a jazz fueled sonic exploration. Where Oxnard was positioning Anderson as more of a rapper, Ventura swings the opposite way only employing rap sparingly and thus giving it much more of punch. Soul permeates ever note here, not hip hop, and that gives it a much more expansive feel. Anderson is much more successful when He uses rap as a punch rather than the basis of an entire song. If you were looking for Anderson to get back to his shit than Ventura is exactly what you've been waiting for, and I for one am delighted.
8.1 out of 10