“Ventura”: Anderson .Paak’s Love Letter to California

By Stephen Yogi

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Anderson .Paak’s latest offering following the release of his album Oxnard comes by way of another destination on his travels across Southern California with Ventura. Capturing a much broader range of sounds than his last offering Oxnard, Ventura’s stylistic 80’s synthesizers are reminiscent of the music that shaped Paak’s musical upbringing. Featuring greats such as Smokey Robinson, Outkast frontman Andre 3000, and G-Funk legend Nate Dogg, Ventura pays homage to the rich musical heritage California boasts while still maintaining that flair and charisma only Anderson .Paak can bring.

The featured single from Ventura, Make It Better’ featuring Smokey Robinson, is characteristic of the smooth sounds Ventura brings to the table. Hearkening back to his soulful roots, Paak creates a ride that fits in line with his imagery of the quintessential California life, this time choosing to bring us back to the sounds of California’s love affair with soulful R&B, with Smokey Robinson fitting perfectly in.

alt="Anderson.Paak smiles wearing beanie and glasses"
Photo via yewonline.com

Reachin’ 2 Much’ featuring Lalah Hathaway is another sultry track that prominently features the high-pitched synth solely characteristic of G-Funk, combined with the disco-fueled power of Hathaway’s vocals and Paak’s upbeat energy.

Another notable stand-out track, ‘What Can We Do’ featuring Nate Dogg, brings the album to fruition with a fun interaction between Paak and Nate Dogg whose sounds complement each other with ease.

Venturing far from his days as Breezy Lovejoy with the Koreatown-based Knocksteady group, and even a musical evolution upon his freshman release of Malibu, Anderson .Paak has grown into a multifaceted artist with a musical vision that rivals the greatest. As a musician, it is clear to see that Anderson .Paak is not only the sum of the parts of the legends in rap, R&B, jazz, and soul, but also a completely new beast that has come from inventing new sounds out of those previously created by musical legends, while still paying homage to his home and the ones that shaped music there forever.

Ventura is one of those rare albums where you’ll never want to skip a song. It’s the type of record you’ve dreamt about playing in the background of every summer day in the sun. It’s the kind of album of that feels like a day in Los Angeles without traffic. It’s a block party with all your friends and neighbors. It’s the feeling of getting off work early on a Friday. Ventura is an outstanding release from Paak and is the perfect accompaniment to the weather getting warmer and the nights getting longer.

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