“Oxnard’s Beaches extend for 5 miles along the city’s oceanfront, from Mandalay Beach in the north to Silver Strand Beach in the south. The beaches are known for their sunshine, mild surf, and easy access.” The official description of Oxnard Beach is as relevant to the beach itself as to the album it inspires, Oxnard – the latest instalment in Anderson .Paak’s ‘Beach Series’. Released on Dr Dre’s label, Aftermath Entertainment, Oxnard is a refreshing, vast and must-see stepping stone in the 32-year old multi-instrumentalist’s glistening career.
As Executive Producer on the album, Dr Dre’s magic dust can be felt sprinkled all over Oxnard, most significantly in ‘6 Summers’, where the fleshy, maxed-out bass beat and syncopated percussion provide a welcomely gruesome backdrop to Paak’s effortlessly bar-crossing vocals. That being said, the track also exhibits Paak’s tendency to miss chances for effective social commentary through his desire to play around with sensational, fanciful and provocative lyrics.
But Paak’s natural charisma and oozing sexual energy trump any deficiency in the realms of social commentary. In fact, Oxnard delivers an alternative and altogether charming style of self-reflection as an ode to the wide variety of genres which influenced its creation. For every jarring futuristic tone of ‘Mansa Musa’ there’s an ‘Anywhere’ to peel you back to a simpler Californian day of G-funk and soul – the era Paak grounds himself, but does not restrict himself, within.
The sheer weight of collaborators on Oxnard shows just how highly Paak has come to be regarded in the industry. Since the release of Malibu on 15th January 2016, Paak’s signature raspy vocals have featured on over 40 tracks on Spotify alone. Now, the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Pusha T, J. Cole, Q-Tip, BJ The Chicago Kid, Kadhja Bonet, The Last Artful, Dodgr, Cocoa Sarai and, of course, Dr. Dre have returned the favour, sharpening the often sprawling nature of Paak’s untapped creative talent to a definitive focal point.
This is the Ellen Degeneres Oscar selfie, the Mighty Ducks,
the Band Aid the Avengers Assemble of the hip hop world – a crack team of rappers, producers and beat-makers who would have fucked Thanos up in less than 6 seconds, let alone 6 summers.