“Ventura” review: Anderson .Paak is back in tip-top shape on fourth album

In case you didn’t know it by now, Anderson .Paak is a star in the music game. He’s already released a modern classic (as some would call it) in his second album Malibu. But where did he come from in the first place?

 The weird thing about him is how he seemingly came out of nowhere, but was here all along. .Paak has been around since 2009, working with the likes of Dr. Dre, ScHoolboy Q, Flying Lotus, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar since then. Many have grown to love his unique voice and his ear for instrumentation. But fans and music critics alike have begun to wonder if .Paak can replicate the quality of his album Malibu due to the mixed reviews of its follow-up Oxnard in 2018.

   On Ventura it seems like .Paak is ready to prove himself yet again. Let’s dive right in and see if he can do that on his fourth studio album.

First impressions

  • The Good: On my first listen through the album, I was amazed at the sonic direction that .Paak went with this time around. It is so different from his last album Oxnard and that isn’t a bad thing at all. The project gives off more of a late 70s-early 80s vibe with disco/funk influences and it’s a really nice change of pace from his previous work.
  • The Bad: The only bad thing I can see thus far with this album is that it is simply too short. It doesn’t drag at all due to the fact it’s only 11 songs long, and I would have much rather preferred a few more songs just to see how far Anderson could take this sound.  

Lyrics/Flow

  • The Good: On this project we hear .Paak utilizing his beautiful singing voice in a variety of different ways. We also get the opportunity to hear him rap a little bit, but the rapping doesn’t overpower the singing like on some of the songs on Oxnard. It is a really good mix and there is something for everyone in this collection of songs.   
  • The Bad: While the singing/rapping is very good on the project, the subject matter is a bit lacking. Most of the tracks have similar concepts that we’ve already heard .Paak discuss in detail in the past. That isn’t terrible, but I would have loved to hear some new ideas fleshed out in these tracks.  
  • Score: 7.7/10

Beats

  • The Good: As I mentioned before, it seems that Anderson .Paak went with a more 70s-80s classic R&B/funk feel. Once you listen through the whole project, you’ll definitely feel that. The beats on this project just resonate a different energy that makes the listener actually feel something. They convey the emotion that .Paak is trying to get across in each track and I applaud him for that.  
  • The Bad: Even though most of the project is new sonic territory for .Paak, not every track seems to have got that message. This knock is only for a few tracks and I don’t think it detracts from the album as a whole. It is a great project and I’d still recommend it if you enjoy .Paak’s style of music.  
  • Score: 8.5/10

Replayability

  • The Good: If you’re looking for a short but sweet album that sounds fresh every time through, you’ve got it right here from Anderson .Paak. This album is only 11 songs and it clocks in at 39 minutes. It doesn’t drag in the slightest and that is a huge boost for the replayability.  
  • The Bad: The only bad thing I can say in terms of the album’s replayability is that if you aren’t a fan of Anderson’s style of music, you may get bored after your first few listens. That is understandable but doesn’t detract from the project as a whole.  
  • Score: 8.2/10

Standouts

Final thoughts

After the less-than-stellar album that 2018’s Oxnard was, I’m happy to see Anderson .Paak get back on the right path with his music. I would 100 percent recommend this album for anyone that wants to hear some pure good vibes this spring. This project is perfect for the warm weather we’ve got headed our way and it will for sure stay in constant rotation.  

Man, this project is honestly so great and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve had pretty much the whole album on repeat since it came out. There is enough variety on here to keep me coming back and it doesn’t get stale as fast as other albums. I love the heavy funk influences that Cheeky Andy used simply because they sound so crisp and polished. I’d love to hear more of that from him in the future.

Honestly this project isn’t groundbreaking in too many ways, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great in its own right. .Paak tried something new on Oxnard and I respect him for that, but I respect him even more for knowing exactly what he’s good at and giving that to us on Ventura. This is one of the best albums of 2019 thus far and will remain that regardless of what other big artists drop for the rest of the year.  

Final Score: 8.4/10    

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