2018, Music

Oxnard (2018) by Anderson .Paak

Maybe it’s because I heard Malibu first but I agree with the sentiment that this is a step back, or at least to the side. The surprise for me of hearing a performer so accomplished and distinct isn’t there this time, obviously, but I don’t think it’s just that.

There are catchy songs here, like last time out. But they feel fewer and farther between. More importantly, more of them feel closer to rap. And I think that’s a fair comment a lot of people have made about this: this record is more hip hop than neo soul, at least more than Malibu, and that feels like a misstep. I’d say the thing about .Paak that is so compelling is his kaleidoscopic command of the various neo soul/alternative R&B styles and sounds that he makes sound his own, with a little bit of hip hop thrown in. But the more hip hop he throws in, the more he sounds like other people (not vocally, musically).

And I think that’s true of the production/arrangements to some extent too, even if it is primarily because of what appears to be featuring more rap than singing compared to the previous record. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a record that is grounded in the neo soul tradition in terms of the overall sound, but it doesn’t’ feel quite as fresh as the predecessor.

I also feel this record’s length more than the previous one. The previous one I didn’t notice how long it is. This one I absolutely do. I guess that’s due to what seems like lower overall song quality but it could also be sequencing – nearly always an issue when your album is over the length of one LP.

I just doesn’t feel as revelatory to me as the previous record. I would love to know what an alternate history is like when I listened to this one first and Malibu second but, of course, I can’t do that. So instead, I have to say that I think this just isn’t as good. It’s still fine and I don’t mean that it is bad, I just don’t think it stands up to its predecessor.


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