Rap Meets Motown On Anderson .Paak’s ‘Ventura’

Ryan Jones, Sports Editor

In an era of music dominated by incoherent raps with little actual meaning, Anderson .Paak brings back the feeling of real music with his fourth studio album “Ventura.”

Originally intended to be released alongside his 2018 album “Oxnard,” “Ventura” sees the artist go back to the soul roots he mostly abandoned on his previous album. While .Paak ditched the singing for rap on his 2018 release, “Ventura” features soulful samples (and features) reminiscent of the ’70’s R&B that inspired the album. Apart from the sound, the album also employs classic story lines prominent in soul, like pleading for a lover of old or bragging about a new fling.

Getting more creative freedom from his legendary producer Dr. Dre, .Paak takes a more laid back approach to the sounds on “Ventura.” While there may not be the slapping bass and aggressive flows that are commonplace in rap today, .Paak does not miss a beat on “Ventura,” churning out 40 minutes of airy, doo-whop music perfect for driving with the windows down to.

While .Paak was truly able to find a sound of his own on the album, what truly tied the 11 tracks together were the features the singer brought along with him. Andre 3ooo spits a minute and a half verse full of tongue tying lines on the album’s opening track “Come Home,” pairing perfectly with .Paak’s emotional pleas for the return of a lost love. Smokey Robinson, the now 79-year-old Motown legend of the ’70’s, even finds himself on the album, bringing in strong supporting vocals on the chorus of the bubbly sounding “Make It Better.” The last feature to make “Ventura” comes by way of a familiar voice missed by many hip-hop fans today. To close out the album, .Paak enlists the classic deep vocals of Nate Dogg, who passed away in 2011, to tie together the funky “What Can We Do.”

.Paak strays away from the traditional love songs on his seventh track, “King James.” Referencing NBA star LeBron James, the song speaks on the state of the African-American community today, praising what James has done for it while bringing light to the issues African-Americans face in the country today. “We couldn’t stand to see our children shot dead in the streets,” .Paak raps, “but when I finally took a knee them crackers took me out of the league.” The opening lines of the song bring with it a dig at Trump, as .Paak proclaims “If they build a wall let’s jump the fence / I’m over this.”

Though it strays away from the rap heavy work of .Paak’s last album, “Ventura” shows an artist who has truly found a sound, and voice, for himself. As he spearheads the revival of funk and soul into today’s music, .Paak has carved out a spot for himself into the ears of music fans today with “Ventura.” From the catchy choruses to the soulful drum lines, the California native’s fourth album has already made a case for itself to be the soundtrack of the Summer.