Anderson .Paak’s new album ‘Ventura’ is unifying and funky
With this in mind, you’d think that Ventura and Malibu’s sound are alike but they aren’t. Malibu was more personable. Ventura speaks on unity.
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It’s a given that most will get up on the dance floor while listening to this nostalgic piece. Still, Anderson .Paak furnished features from icons Andre 3000, Smokey Robinson, Lalah Hathaway, Jasmine Sullivan, Sonyae Elise, Brandy, and Nate Dogg to keep us on our toes.
In the same way, Ventura does the same with its subgenres like soul, disco, and alternative R&B. Still, the main thing for keeps on each track is Anderson’s distinctive husky vocal pattern.
It just “begs you to come home” and at once you’re in your younger years, at your local rink or at the jukebox slow dancing with a cutie.
This groovy 11-track collective starts off with “Come Home” featuring Andre 3000. Pleading for a reconciliation with his true love, Anderson .Paak thinks they should stop playing the blame game because “all of the signs are brightly drawn” and point back to her open arms.
The Motown inspired production also gives Anderson .Paak and Andre 3000 some leeway to take the song in many directions (the guitar riffs, piano’s low/high register to the kick drum and even the flute.) Yet the matter at hand forces them to stick with what they’ve got.
Right after Anderson.Paak says his piece, Andre 3000 goes in with his internal rhyming style — giving his love something to chew on. For the listeners worldwide, how’s that for food of thought?
“We fightin’, we might need counseling, possibly more-so me, Sounds to me frowns’ll be grounds to leave, Hounds’ll be lookin’ for you before you drop a tear.”
The second track, “Make it Better” featuring Smokey Robinson oozes with a refined version of 70s soul. As Anderson .Paak uses his honeyed voice simultaneously with Smokey Robinson — you can’t help but think that Paak’s gotten some pointers from the legend!
Like, “Come Home,” Anderson .Paak sings about mending his relationship. Although it seems difficult, he knows that together things could get easier if they just keep on trying but she will need convincing.
“Somehow, we fell in love, then fell right out of touch. And ooh, that was hard. But ooh, here we are. And it’s easier to walk away. Then to look for what would make you stay.“
Their crooning is followed by dynamic guitar riffs, the famous kick-drum & a projectile violin.
“Reachin’ 2 Much” featuring Laila Hathaway reaches for a medium and it does an exceptional job. From the organ chords and bass drum to the horns, claps & futuristic sound effects — this two-part track perfectly expresses how disco & funk should sound.
As Anderson .Paak tries to figure out if the girl he’s speaking about is on the same page, Laila backs him up with her trancelike harmony & scatts.
“I see you too much, baby, I need to (Take some space)/You kiss me too much, baby, forgot to (Wipe my face)/I treat you too much, baby, why don’t you (Ever pay?) I think you’re too much, baby, I need to (Pump my brakes)/(I think I’m doin’ way too much, I)/How can one thing mean so much to you and (So little to me?)/You stay here too much, baby, you know it’s (Not your place)/You’re sniffin’ too much, baby, I had to (Hide my yay’)”.
This song perfectly describes what it’d be like if someone had a friend with benefits & the friend wanted more than benefits.
The fourth track, “Winner Circle” goes for a Musiq Soulchild vibe, blending jazz with hip-hop. Most of his life Anderson .Paak has played his cards and versatile rhymes right, but he’s also played the roles of the women who’ve given him attention.
Still, there’s this one girl.. one girl who’s different from the rest.
“They gon’ have to come for me/Came out my comfort zone to be your missing company/Somethin’ about the way you never gave it up to me/But let me know that I can get it any day of the week.”
By the fifth track, “Good Heels” featuring Jazmine Sullivan, Anderson .Paak goes back to his player ways.
Singing from two perspectives, Paak finds himself in a sticky situation when his side chick leaves her keys and clothes in his house, but with his girl on the way, he can’t risk letting her in through the door. His greatest vice for her,
“Pull up, uh, the fire escape, uh Open up the window, get your little thangs/Get your little keys, get your little rings/Just free in the wind, though, before she see your face.”
More liberated than ever in the sixth track — “Yada Yada” keeps the funk going! Anderson .Paak speaks about how grateful he is to be where he’s at now because things weren’t so grand before.
He goes from rapping to singing and it just goes to show why he’s here, to begin with.
“When the dreams become reality (It could be)/ It’s hard to keep a smile off the mug (Look at me)/Label tried to play me like I didn’t do all the work/I found another way through the open gate and my purpose/Now I’m goin’ crazy like (Right).”
Keeping the same energy the seventh track, “King James” pays its respect to Lebron James for standing up for his people.
Though it is admirable, Paak charges them to do the same. Check these lyrics,
“And we salute King James for using his change/To create some equal opportunities/Cold stares can never put the fear in me/There’s a movement we’ve been groovin’ on/You can move or stay your ass asleep/Let’s just not talk about it/Everything they tried to hide/We’re taking back for yours and mine. Out of everything that the production brings, the whistle blows makes the message stick out like a sore thumb.”
“Chosen One” off of Ventura uses a sped-up sample of “On The Level” by Mac Demarco in the first piece but then expands on its own with a snare drum, trickled piano chords and low guitar riff at hand.
In this track Anderson .Paak speaks about finding a girl who loves him for him instead of his fame.
“Who gon’ love me and touch me the right way/Need me a lil’ baby/Who gon’ run up and jump in the fight with me/Need me a lil’ lady/Who gon’ keep it buck like Milwaukee/Need me a lil’ lady.”
He adds some spice to the sugar talk is Sonyaè Elise, who uses a bit of sex appeal in her vocal play to accredit her loyalty.
We still want the funk and Anderson .Paak provides it (still) by track nine — “Jet Black” featuring Brandy. More refined with some R&B-ish crooning from Brandy, the song gives you that “good lovin’” feeling.
To put it in words, Anderson .Paak and Brandy sing about how great their love is.
“We peakin’ hands above us/Feels like someone lifted me/We peakin’/Arms like lovers/Feels like someone sent for me (Sent for me, yeah)/We peakin’.”
It’s hard to zone out by Ventura’s tenth track, “Twilight” because of everything you hear. In midst of the bouncy bass line — you start to believe your ears are playing tricks because Paak starts to sound like Isaac Hayes but in reality, it’s still the multiverse artist.
Merely an ode to his love, he expresses how grateful he is to have her in his life.
“You’re my twilight when it’s awfully dark and I lost my way/ ‘Cause when my life feels off the mark, you put me back in place.”
Last but not least, Ventura‘s last track “What Can We Do?” features savored, archived vocals from Nate Dogg.
The album doesn’t contain more tracks so…what can we do? All jokes aside — in this song Paak is trying to figure out what to do next after the end of his relationship. But so far he’s got nothing.
“Cause my love went wrong/Yeah, another bag and she’ll love me in the morn’/While the bubble over stove/As I was dreaming of a bag, then I woke/You were starting to snore, wake your ass up/Layin’ in a bed full of cash/You slowly rolled over and whispered back to me/ “That’s just the way things have to be.”
The production resembles G-Funk. Despite what Paak’s going through in this song, he’s still illmatic and funkadelic. On the real, like its name, Ventura gives off feel-good vibes.
At best it’s an eccentric mix that hones in on Anderson .Paak’s skill. He’s come a long way from those open mics at Leimert and he’s on the point of no return. Slowly but surely, Ventura will continue making its mark.
Peep the entire album for yourself below. Ventura is a great listen.