By Kwase Lane, Contributor
Key tracks: “6 Summers”, “Cheers”, “Sweet Chick”
In his third studio album and final “beach trilogy” entry, Anderson Paak showers the auditory canvas with musical ideas of different tints and tones. Oxnard shows how far Anderson has come from Venice, even if it isn’t as critically acclaimed as his previous album, Malibu. Oxnard has a confidence that Malibu lacked, Paak is unafraid of hopping from one sonic island to another just to see what new topics and tunes it has in store. Even if it isn’t as focused as his previous project, Oxnard is no less fun to listen to and gives more indication to the direction of Paak’s progress than Malibu ever could.
Read more: Album Review: Anderson .Paak – Malibu
“6 Summers” is possibly the most politically charged that audiences have ever seen Paak. The song begins by poking fun at the president, conjuring images of an illegitimate lovechild that Trump would, no doubt, hate to call his own. As hilarious as this is, the piece doesn’t really take off until the second half. Anderson abandons his mocking tone in favor of a more somber, introspective one. Paak offers his musings on gun control and police brutality in a way that is both blunt and tactful. The point of each argument is delivered with a clever lyrical punchline or slant rhyme that catches the listener’s ear at the same time the claim lands. Anderson Paak makes excellent points regarding the status of the United States, never sacrificing his musical design to do so.
“Cheers” is a song doused with the pain and sadness of mourning, but one would never know if they only had the track’s bombastic production. Anderson is trying to fight back his feelings surrounding Mac Miller’s death, and he succeeds for some time before further stewing in his regretful thoughts. “Cheers” is an amazing piece that feels incredibly genuine. The backing is dynamic and ear-catching without overshadowing the more sorrowful themes discussed. Paak’s sadness seems so real. The piece does an awesome job of showing him try to cover his heartache with a less-than-honest feeling of euphoria. In the end, Paak is made to come to terms with his feelings, and the song concludes in a powerful outpouring from the accompanying saxophone, as if to symbolize Anderson’s newfound acceptance of the situation.
Next up, in “Sweet Chick”, Paak details the habits of many of his fictional past romantic partners. Anderson always finds something wrong with the woman he’s with, hence the resulting break-up. The absurdity of this piece contrasts wonderfully with the gloomy undertones in “Cheers”. This song is truly a testament to Paak’s charismatic delivery. The song is slightly misogynistic and has no deeper meaning, but it’s still so much fun to listen to. Cementing this point in place is BJ the Chicago Kid’s supporting verse. He sounds ecstatic to be participating in the strange back-and-forth with Paak. Putting down and objectifying women are far from new in the world of rap, but Anderson finds comical ways to turn this trope on its head. The tongue-in-cheek nature of his delivery and light, forward-driving production make what should be an example of one of rap’s worst aspects into a lively on-the-road jam.
Oxnard is a marvelous example of how to follow an album that’s as universally well-liked as Malibu. Oxnard goes in an almost completely different direction, and in doing so, shows the value of its uniqueness. As compared to Malibu, Oxnard offers much more proof to Anderson’s high musical ability. Malibu is like doing the same thing over and over again with near perfect accuracy, but in this project, Paak challenges himself by incorporating many different sonic elements. Anderson Paak’s return to the music scene may not have been the cannon-ball many were waiting for, but it still makes a respectable splash.