“A celebration of life…welcome to #Ventura,” Anderson .Paak announced through his Instagram page immediately before his fourth studio album, “Ventura,” was released on April 12. In the LP, .Paak explores the infectious feeling of new lovers and the turbulent struggle of fixing a relationship. Just five months after his third full-length project, “Oxnard,” .Paak returns with a collection of uptempo jams perfect for blaring out your windows.
.Paak, a California native, has slowly been picking up speed since being featured on XXL Magazine’s 2016 Freshman list. At the 59th Grammy awards .Paak was nominated twice, for Best New Artist and Best Urban Contemporary Album for “Malibu.” At the 2018 ceremony, he took home his first Grammy for Best Rap Performance for his fast-paced and exciting one-off single “Bubblin.”
“Ventura” is groovy, funky and smooth. With the 11 song LP .Paak satisfies listeners in a short amount of time. Coming in at 39 minutes, “Ventura” includes more of .Paak’s sweet and raspy croon and features less of the hip-hop and rapping found more frequently on “Oxnard.” No track is a filler and every single one belongs on your summer playlist.
In what music reviewing site, The Line of Best Fit, described as “an exceptional return to form,” .Paak rehashes the sound that gained him recognition for his first Grammy nod in 2016. With explosions of sound followed by quiet recessions, a live band and intertwining rhythms throughout the record, “Ventura” will not leave you disappointed.
The LP opens with, what can only be described as seamless, “Come Home,” featuring a rare verse from Andre 3000. The track transitions between chorus and verse with no disruption. It combines flutes, angelic background vocalists and drums perfectly.
The sonic landscape present throughout the album is a collection of sounds that, if not executively produced by Dr. Dre, would simply not work. The signature production and sound has accompanied .Paak since his major label debut on 2014’s “Venice.” It’s something the fans, myself included, look forward to release after release.
“Chosen One,” featuring Sonyae Elise, originally finds itself uninspired, with alternating verses that don’t mesh perfectly. However, a minute and a half into the song it pivots into an infectious, soft piano-tinged stomp. .Paak threads his voice above the beat, teetering back and forth, halfway returning to the more rap-infused flows from 2018’s “Oxnard,” and half singing in his signature voice more present in “Ventura.”
“Somehow, we fell in love, then fell right out of touch. And ooh, that was hard. But oooh, here we are. And it’s easier to walk away. Then to look for what would make you stay,” .Paak soulfully asserts on “Make It Better.” This song embodies one of the albums main themes: fixing a relationship. .Paak admits that it would be easier to give up, but reconciles and realizes that he doesn’t want to live life without it and resolves to “Make It Better.”
However, .Paak also explores the highs of a relationship, on “Jet Black,” .Paak enlists Brandy for a cheerful duet highlighting a relationship at its peak. In the chorus, .Paak and Brandy sing, “We peakin’, hands above us feels like someone lifted me, we peakin’, arms like lovers feels like someone sent for me (sent for me, yeah), we peakin’.” A standout track and a fan favorite creates an inescapable vibe. Claps coincide with funky guitar strums to become one of the most popular non-singles from the album.
“Ventura” is made with joy. .Paak is someone who enjoys music and we can tell. “Ventura” is a body of work that’s undeniably fun to listen to. Even with songs detailing rough patches in a relationship, you can’t help but sing along. If you want to catch this infectious spirit live catch .Paak on his “Best Teef in the Game” tour which stops by San Francisco on June 27.