“Ventura” Shows Off Anderson .Paak’s Talent Once Again


Rapper, singer, and producer, Anderson .Paak has been one of my favorite artists since he released his album, “Oxnard” last year. When I heard that he was releasing “Ventura” this year, I knew I had to listen to it as soon as it came out.

“Ventura” begins with the soulful love song, “Come Home.” This track features former Outkast frontman Andre 3000. I loved .Paak’s raspy vocals on this song. And as a fan of Outkast, hearing Andre 3000’s feature was the cherry on top of this already wonderful song.

“Come Home” was the perfect album-opener.

Next came “Make It Better,” which featured Smokey Robinson. I’ll be honest, this song made me sad over a breakup that I didn’t even go through. The track was also easy to listen to and very well-produced.

“Reachin’ 2 Much” featuring Lalah Hathaway came next, which was much faster than “Come Home” and “Make It Better.” Although I found this track to be fun to listen to, it was a bit boring.

“Reachin’ 2 Much” did, however, provide a good lead into the next track “Winners Circle.”

“Winners Circle” was one of my all-time favorite songs on the album. I was a huge fan of the sampling used in the beginning of the song, which came from the 1993 film A Bronx Tale. The song, itself, was more rap-dominated than the last three tracks, which I really enjoyed. The track brought me back to .Paak’s last album, “Oxnard.” Having been a huge fan of “Oxnard,” I loved the song.

It’s safe to say that “Winners Circle” was in my head for hours after listening to it.

Next came “Good Heels,” which featured Jazmine Sullivan. I’ll be honest, I wish this track was longer because I loved it so much. It was sweet, calming, and easy on the ears. Sullivan and .Paak’s voices complimented each other very well.

Next came “Yada Yada.” Although this was not the most interesting of the tracks on “Ventura,” it was still nice to listen to. My favorite part of “Yada Yada” was its transition into the next song, “King James.”

“King James” was one of my all-time favorites on the album. The song was the perfect length — coming in at a succinct three minutes and 18 seconds. The track was both catchy and clever. Although “King James”  was a fairly political song, lyrically, it was still easy and fun to listen to. The song managed to keep it light, even though the lyrics touched on heavy topics like police brutality and gentrification.

The next track was “Chosen One,” featuring Sonyae Alise. To be honest, this was my least favorite song on the whole album. The lyrics left much to be desired and the music, itself, was forgettable compared to the rest of “Ventura.” This is a bit disappointing, considering the fact that Alise’s voice complimented .Paak’s voice very well.

Next up was “Jet Black,” which featured R&B artist, Brandy. As a huge fan of Brandy’s music, I had very high expectations for this track. Luckily, “Jet Black” delivered. .Paak and Brandy’s vocals complimented each other very well. The lyrics were not the greatest on the album, but the vocals were what made “Jet Black” enjoyable and fun to listen to.

“Twilight” came next. This track was by no means my favorite of the album, but it was still good. The production quality was very impressive and I enjoyed .Paak’s vocals on the song. I wouldn’t go out of my way to praise “Twilight,” but it was still enjoyable.

“Ventura” closed with “What Can We Do?” featuring Nate Dogg, who passed away in 2011. To put it simply, Nate Dogg is an icon. He is known most for his work in the legendary rap group, 213, which featured Warren G and Snoop Dogg. Nate Dogg is regarded as a prophet in West Coast rap, having collaborated with the likes of Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Eminem.

To be brief, I think “What Can We Do?” is one of .Paak’s best songs to date. The track was a wonderful tribute to Nate Dogg, considering it was equal parts fun and bittersweet. The song managed to meaningfully pay tribute to the rap legend, while not being sad. .Paak managed to show the world what Nate Dogg was known for, his talent and his charisma, in less than three minutes — that is to be commended. “What Can We Do?” perfectly highlights not only Nate Dogg’s talent, but .Paak’s as well.

Although I would not go as far as to say “Ventura” is .Paak’s greatest album to date, it was still very good. In fact, I have listened to the full album more than once since it came out and I will continue to do so. I look forward to seeing what .Paak does next.

Header Credit: Riley Johanson