Anderson .Paak is a very talented artist who uses live instrumentation in his production and dabbles in hip-hop and R&B. His previous album “Oxnard” received praise for being a perfect balance between rap and R&B.
His new album, “Ventura”, is completely different; it has elements of different musical styles with the overall consistency of an R&B album. Artists like Smokey Robinson and André 3000 make appearances on this album to complement Paak.
“Come Home” starts the album with a beautiful instrumental that features live drums and a flute to enhance the beat. Paak then delivers a good verse, talking about someone who is trying to get back with his former partner. André 3000 comes in and delivers one of the best verses on this album; the way Andre flows on the beat is amazing pairs well with Paak's performance.
“Make It Better” slows down the tempo with an old school R&B beat as Paak talks about how his previous lovers are trying to rekindle their relationship. Paak and Smokey Robinson do a good job with harmonizing and matching the energy of the song. The only thing that could have been better is if they were given longer verses, since both verses were fairly short.
“Reachin’ 2 Much” starts with a soul beat that sounds pleasing to the ears. Paak beings to sing with his unique and smooth voice, while matching the tone of the beat. Lalah Hathaway comes in when the beat switches to a disco type, with Hathaway and Paak harmonizing well with the track. In the song, Paak is questioning a girl about her motives in the relationship. Lalah Hathaway finishes the song with jazz scat singing.
“Winners Circle” is one of the weaker songs on this album, with Paak discussing how his relationship with this girl does not compare to his previous ones. While the beat sounds good with some elements of smooth jazz, the performance from Paak was not that good. His voice sounds like he is fighting against the beat instead of flowing with it.
The album picks right back up with “King James” which continues the feature of jazz and soul. The song pays homage to NBA Star LeBron James, a successful businessman and basketball player, with a funky beat that sounds great. “King James” is definitely one of the best songs on this album and it really shows how good Paak can be with choosing his beats.
“Jet Black” is an interesting song featuring artist Brandy. Paak uses elements of R&B and pop to create this groovy track. The harmonization and chemistry between Paak and Brandy is amazing; they could definitely make some more music together. One thing that could make this song better is a verse by Brandy.
The album finishes off with “What Can We Do?” which features the late artist Nate Dogg and has a disco-like feel to it. Paak talks about ending his relationship and what he can do to move forward. Surprisingly, the two artists have some great chemistry, especially with harmonizing. They also have a segment when the artists trade back verses which sound amazing.
Overall, this is a very good album with its different musical elements, amazing features and a great performance from Paak. However, its easy to see people who liked “Oxnard” not liking this because of how this it leans more into being an R&B album rather than a hip-hop one. 4/5