Wait, didn't Anderson .Paak just release an album not too long ago? Ventura, which came out on April 12, was released less than half a year after Oxnard, Paak’s previous album. Oxnard did not receive nearly as much critical acclaim as Malibu, which came out in 2016. Contrary to Oxnard, Ventura deviates from rap by focusing more on Paak’s relationship with funk and his painting of immaculate scenarios, but still features his bubbly persona and chill, dance–like beats.
The album begins with “Come Home,” which features André 3000 and provides a soothing entry into Ventura. The background entrances the listener with intertwined harmonies and a range of piano notes. However, “Come Home” doesn’t set the actual tone for the whole album, as songs like “Reachin’ 2 Much” prove to be far more energetic and full of life. The spunky melodies gloss over the lyrics, which reveal confusion in the relationship between .Paak and his partner. He says, “I think you’re doin’ way too much, settle down (Settle down) / Somebody needs to calm you down (Calm you down).” “Reachin’ 2 Much” is an ironic interjection of miscommunication and carelessness.
Paak continues to explore this theme of attempting to work things out with a girl with “Chosen One,” featuring Sonyae Elise, a contemporary R&B singer who was also featured on Malibu. Sonyae Elise isn’t the only other artist on this track, as Mac Demarco contributes a sample of his song “On the Level” as the intro. Paak is on the search to find someone that likes him like crazy for who he is as a person, and not as a famous artist. Syncopated rhythms continuously drive this track forward and its energy up.
Few tracks such as “King James” deviate from the rest of the album, taking Paak back to lyrics about social justice and activism. Paak praises Lebron James’ in saying “And we salute King James for using his change to create some equal opportunities.” Although the song was released two weeks prior, these lyrics come at a time in close proximity to the death of Nipsey Hussle, a community–oriented artist and friend of Paak’s.
Going full circle, Paak rounds out the end of the album with a song that is appreciative of his girl. “Twilight” has a steady bouncy beat with a drum and trumpet notes going up and up. The lyrics, “You’re my twilight when it’s awfully dark and I lost my way” perfectly symbolize the way Paak's partner makes him feel grounded, putting him back into place when he's fallen off the path. It seems that Paak has finally found his peace, and this song diverges from much of the chaos driving the album.
In Ventura, Paak has his lessons from Oxnard by putting more emphasis on what he does best: creating funky, syncopated rhythms full of spice and energy that scream Anderson .Paak. Ventura’s lyrics focus more on Paak’s journey through love and life as opposed to activist callings. The album, in its easily identifiable style, is a good indicator of what Paak should continue doing in the years ahead.