Anderson .Paak Hits His Creative Peak On The Funk-Washed, Sun-Bleached Ode To His Hometown, ‘Oxnard’


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It’s really hard to dislike Anderson .Paak or his latest collection of silky smooth, funk-washed bops dedicated to his sleepy hometown. You’re welcome to try to hate on Oxnard, the soulful album on which the southern California native excavates fresh caverns of introspective grooves, but eventually, the talented singer/rapper/drummer will break you down like a backline solo near the end of one of his soul-soaked, sun-bleached, retro-futuristic bops. It’s only a matter of time.

Not that anyone would understand the impulse. Anderson .Paak is the consummate, scrappy underdog, a musical Rocky Balboa. He worked his way up from the bottom through sheer determination and charisma, and he’s a nice guy, to boot. Dissing the dude is just un-American.

But this is where we find ourselves in hip-hop in 2018, the year that just wouldn’t end. Every other album is overlooked, every third artist isn’t just a must-listen, they’re a must-hate-listen. It’s so hard to enjoy anything with a constant barrage of filler needing to be filtered through snarky cynicism and guarded, practiced faux-intellectualism. Everybody just needs to chill out.

That’s where Anderson .Paak comes in.

Starting out at the height of the so-called “blog rap” era as Breezy Lovejoy, .Paak crafted his first few lovingly, painstaking compilations from scratch, working as an assistant to Sa-Ra Creative Partners producer Shafiq Husayn. Those first musical experiments flashed glimpses of the space-age musicianship and attention to detail that would eventually become Anderson’s calling cards, leading to the eventual release of his first album under his switched moniker, Venice. An ode to the “Menace Beach” of old, the album began to solidify the musical style that became his trademark. Heavily marked by the funk and soul that he grew up on, as well as touches of the gangsta rap that permeated the Southern California air in the 1990s of his youth.