Posts tagged California
Album review: Anderson .Paak lets you into his eclectic world with "Oxnard"

Oxnard is the 19th most populated city in the entire state of California. Approximately two hours northwest of: El Segundo, where the transcendent Kamaal The Abstract left his wallet in a legendary tale; Compton, where the cerebral Andre Young recorded a seminal masterpiece titled The Chronic, and; Long Beach, where Calvin Broadus linked up with Young to create a definitive West Coast classic nearly 25 years ago to the day. It's also home to a multi-hyphenate musician by the name of Brandon Paak Anderson - a man working on a lasting legacy of his own.

His laid-back mannerisms embody the spirit of the Greater Los Angeles area that has the essence of summertime year-round. The artist formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy makes his performances on stage and in the studio seem effortless, but a tremendous amount of work was required on this difficult path to reach the crest of his profession. Even after all he's accomplished, he's not even close to his full potential; alike to the next evolution of music consumption after streaming, the listeners won't know what to expect next, but it could potentially shift the way we view this art form.

Seven years ago, he was homeless with a wife and child after unexpectedly being fired as a weed farmer. Today, the GRAMMY-nominated 32-year-old Anderson .Paak dropped an instant album of the year contender: Oxnard, the third (solo) studio album under his current moniker. The previous two are vastly different from each other but are important to the development of a style that can't be replicated. Venice (2014) was an ambitious electro-R&B project, mixed with guitar licks and trap sounds, had a few moments but as a whole, felt unfocused. However, 2016 yielded more fruitful results. At the top of the year, the arsenal of his creative genius was on full display with Malibu, featuring his close friends The Free Nationals. The band's steady yet lively instrumentation and unforced chemistry with Andy helped to congeal any loose pockets that plagued the clunky Venice. This allowed .Paak to settle into his signature groove by exploring and destroying conventional aspects of music by combining neo-soul, funk, rap, and jazz without sounding disheveled.

The results were a critically acclaimed album in a class of its own, unbothered with fitting a singular trend; rather, Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals were inspired by various genres and smartly crafted their own vibe on Malibu. Bookended between soulful, show-stealing guest spots, a highly regarded, more "traditional" rhythm & blues performance as one-half of Nxworries further cemented .Paak as a bona fide star.

While decades of trial & error and a strong background in the church were integral to the process, the free spirit of Yes Lawd! was refined thanks in part to Dr. Dre. “You need that, because you’ll go crazy when you’re making these albums if you don’t have nobody to be your co-pilot,” said .Paak of Dre and his meticulous focus in the studio. The iconic producer-turned-mogul played the role of mentor as he's done for the past 30 years. A well documented, near-peerless industry track record like Dre’s gave .Paak a major co-sign. 16 years after the flawless 2001, Dre triumphantly returned in 2015 with Compton: a soundtrack to the summer box office hit Straight Outta Compton that was meant to showcase the rising talent from the West Coast. Nobody shined brighter on Compton than Anderson .Paak.

Three years later, fully formed as a dangerous versatile threat, he returns to the lab with The Doc to put the finishing touches on Oxnard.

“'We went in for a few more weeks and that’s when the bulk of the album actually got done,' .Paak says of the more than 10 new tracks that form the core of the record. 'And these were songs that I never thought I’d write.'"

The mission was to let the entertainment world know that he and his hometown weren't solely "LA-adjacent"; they are distinct entities worthy of more than being generalized with the rest of the mold. The cinematic feel of Oxnard reflects the rockstar life he's experienced since 2014. There's a larger-than-life boldness to this record, similar to blaxploitation era films from the '70s. The album opener The Chase featuring Kadhja Bonet, sounds like a crisp remake of a funky jam found on the Dolemite soundtrack. As he does throughout the hour-long project, .Paak vacillates here between a slick rap flow and a cool, easy, yet powerful croon. The meticulous nature of Dr. Dre's handprint is obvious in more ways than one. Relative to his previous releases, it wouldn't be out of line to say that Oxnard is Anderson .Paak's *rap* album; in that, he rhymes in a lyricist's prose for a large portion of his verses like the 9th Wonder-produced Saviers Road. The shit talking and confidence with the way he spits in on par, if not better, than a lot of rappers currently in the game.

However, it would be unfair to just categorize it as his *rap* album. It's a multi-dimensional walk down a vibrant landscape that only an engineer on the level of Dr. Dre could so expertly arrange. Oxnard, like .Paak, is genre-less. Smile/Petty featuring Sonya Elise and SiR balances smooth vocals and nasally raps over a mellow RnB tune before ending with strong, spiteful singing over heavy g-funk production. Tints is a fun groove of lead single with a Kendrick Lamar - who co-habits the space on his best behavior - as they deal with increased stardom ("Paparazzi wanna shoot ya, shoot ya, niggas dying for less here"..."I can't be flying down that 110 with a bad bitch in my whip, I need tints"). The first half of 6 Summers doesn't mesh with the stellar second half, but it's meant to be a satirical "holding a mirror to the goofy commander-in-cheeto" in the Oval Office. Cheeky Andy doesn't seek to be overtly political, but when necessary, he can make a statement on behalf of his people.

On Animals, a standout off Compton, he sings:

The police don't come around these parts
They tell me that we all a bunch of animals
The only time they wanna turn the cameras on
Is when we're fuckin' shit up, come on

The refrain for the second half of 6 Summers goes on to say:

This shit gon' bang for at least six summers
But ain't shit gon' change for at least three summers
They tryna kill a nigga faith, we need a little truth, brother
Pop-pop-pop goes the shooter
Reform, reform shoulda came sooner

Contributing to social commentary as an artist, whether heavy-handed or subtle, can never be understated with a growing platform such as his. "Ain't shit gon' change" right away, but with a concerted effort, change is possible; stating so on a project that's "gon' bang for at least six summers" is a good way to spread the message. Aside from .Paak's multi-faceted performance and expertly mixed production, the strength of Oxnard lie in the guest appearances from a star-studded lineup. The mean 808, guitar infused banger Brother's Keeper, featuring the legal malice of Pusha-T (Am I my brother's keeper, they still asking 'bout the duo // Applaud his finding salvation, But I'm still rhyming 'bout the you know); Trippy with J. Cole - a calm soothing ballad dedicated to the love of their lives; Sweet Chick featuring the great, colorful, and soulful harmonics of BJ the Chicago Kid. On Anywhere, 25 years after the creation of Doggystyle, Dre & Snoop, still, in rare form as a pairing, reconnect to help give .Paak a fresh, relaxed melodic West Coast sound. On Cheers, the rapper who lost his wallet in El Segundo 18 years prior, talks about a different loss. Q-Tip (RIP Phife) and Anderson (RIP Mac Miller) share sentiments of losing close friends and collaborators, but choose to treat it as a reflective celebration of life. The result is a vibrant Dre & Tip production brought to life with upbeat percussion and synthesizers.

Venice to Compton to Malibu to Oxnard is a modern journey unlike anyone else's in popular music today. Each project has a distinct standalone presence, using previous experiences to carefully build towards this exact moment in 2018. An artist on the precipice of becoming a mega-star is learning to become more of himself. It can't be a coincidence how the path of the location first trended towards the actual city of Los Angeles then rerouted back to the place of his birth. Oxnard is an ode to and a return presentation to his hometown to share life experiences after traveling the globe in the limelight. It's evident that he grew as a lyricist, songwriter, composer, and musician as a whole...but we're nowhere close to the peak of his abilities. Oxnard, if only a glimpse, is a step in the direction of his full potential. It's a project that'll appreciate with time.

From CRWN, a sit-down conversation with Tidal:

Elliot Wilson: you have a wide musical pallet...with your classification of music, sometimes people don't necessarily know if they should put you in the idea of what RnB is...do you hate those classifications and feel like it's just music?

"I think that people need to just first listen to the music. Like stop tryna put it and compare it and immediately say it's like this or it's like this. A lot of people aren't even listening to the music, on God. Like they not really digesting the music; they're just like one time through and they're eager to compare it...just listen! I just leave it up to the people...my job is just to make it and make sure it's honest."

He doesn't fit a particular genre because he's his own genre. He’s Anderson .Paak.

'Paverbs': Tales of the city Vol. 2

Us men at times don't understand the simple concept of "Women can do it to". We also think that women are such emotionally irrational creatures that they can't separate sex from actual feelings. Which is completely false; this is 2018 & the power is theirs. Sometimes she just needs some sex & you're just around & haven't talked yourself out the action.

This can sometimes last for months, hell I've even had situations like this last for almost a year. But don't get it twisted; she doesn't care about you. Unless you've had conversations with this woman that say otherwise, don't assume you're anything more.

Also, don't assume you can sex a woman into developing feelings for you. It's impossible & the quickest way to get your heart broken. The most painful relationship a man can be in is one with a woman who's single. Just appreciate the moments, appreciate the sex & don't overestimate your importance.

Let's first dive into what an "off night" is. The best way I can explain it is this: even Michael Jordan didn't drop 30 every night. Every now & then he had some 15-20 point games sprinkled in. That didn't happen often but it doesn't matter; the fact still remains it happened.

It's the same with women, especially the high maintenance bad ones in the city that seem so unattainable. On most nights, for you, they are but every now & then they'll make an exception. Usually, this exception has nothing to do with anything you actually did so don't sit back & assume you just have all the juice. No, you were just around; you were chosen & you didn't talk enough to fuck it up. You've probably been nothing but nice to her for the duration of time that you've known her & she just might need that energy in her life tonight.

It could be a multitude of things that cause this "off night" to happen but the top three reasons I've witnessed are:

  • An athlete or entertainer boyfriend being caught cheating so she's liable to engage in revenge sex.
  • The holiday season when the city kind of slows down a bit & most of the people who she is living that life with are back at home for the holidays.
  • The forever undefeated boredom.

    If she's that fire she's used to money, she's been around it & if you don't have it you won't keep her around. But every now & then when the stars align perfectly she can be yours, for one night only.

The City is a crazy place, everything seems so replaceable. So in turn everything is devalued, especially people & your relationships with them. Like I've mentioned before, a Hollywood three months is a normal year. In REAL life that's still only 90 days, but that's more than enough time to create a false reality about people. You see the people in this life usually aren't your friends, but when you're living at this speed it sure can seem like it. When you see somebody every night for three months when most people don't last a week, it can create a false sense of friendship.

Now you start calling people the homie whose last names you don't even know. Every memory you have with this person is past 9pm & jaded with drugs & alcohol. But you're so conditioned by the city you forgot that regular people don't live this way. It's like you guys have like your own little country club that only a few are privileged to. But these people, because they aren't your friends, aren't going to call you at 2pm to hang out & just talk.

But at this point, that's all you know because you don't meet regular people because they don't live like you. They can't stay up until 4am every night because they have work in the morning. So now you have to hit the streets every night because that's the only place you aren't lonely at, which is one reason why everybody says the city is so fake. It's not really that people are THAT much faker than anywhere else. It's that life moves at such a rapid speed you don't notice that they don't love you like that.

'Paverbs': Tales of the city

This is one a lot of people won't feel but I'm going to try to help you understand. When you living that life, especially in Hollywood, you meet so many people.

Think about it... let's say you go out four days a week. In those four days you might meet a group of women from out of the country, another group of women from out of town, a couple college girls as well as some girls who don't come out much but probably got drug out by their friends tonight.

The girls that you meet from out of town probably just want to party, so if they're in town for four days you might end up spending four straight nights with that group of girls. But they cycle out at the end of the week & a new roster comes in & it's the same thing rotated over & over again.

Also, people just fall off the map sometimes. People get girlfriends/boyfriends or maybe the occasional job or some people just end up moving back home because the city got too crazy. Everything is so fast so in three months the whole landscape of everything might have changed. The doormen at spots might be different, your favorite bartender might be gone... anything is possible. So a Hollywood 3 months is like a normal person's year because things switch over so fast when you are living at that speed. Everything & everyone, for the most part, is temporary.

Again, a Hollywood 3 months is like a normal year, so when you break that down 48 hours is like a week & half. If you meet a girl & she's living that life in a 48 hour span she probably meets about 10-20 guys & that's on a light week.

So from the time you take that IG or number down you are on the clock. I call it the "First 48". By noon of the next day if you haven't reached out to engage in some kind of conversation with her you're already losing. Also, you have to take into account that when you met her she was probably some type of intoxicated so she might not even remember that she met you in 48 hours.

You can play it how you want to play it but here's my advice: hit her up around Noon-2pm & tell her how nice it was to meet her & ask what she's getting into that night. See where she's going, make plans to pop up there, grab a drink, have a quick convo, keep it cool & then make plans for drinks for the following week.

Again, the first 48 hours is pivotal. How you play it will determine if you just see her around or if she's showing up with you.

First off, let's dive into who Tom Thibodeau is. He's the former coach of the Bulls during the D. Rose era & currently the coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He also should probably be in a jail for manslaugter for what he did to Luol Deng, Joakim Noah & D. Rose's knees but that's neither here no there. One thing he doesn't believe in is playing rookies. He values experience over potential in most situations.

Take that logic & apply it to women who just moved to the city. You can't date them, don't do it. They need to go through some stuff first before you can lock them down if that's your plan. LA is a crazy place: no matter where in America you come from there's nothing like it, especially for an attractive woman.

The allure is crazy & there's a 99% chance she's going to get some kind of caught up in it & she needs to. She needs to understand how the city works & get everything out of her system before you even attempt to put that type of life in front of her. Also the city has a way of making you the struggle version of yourself, especially if you have any type of self esteem issues which you don't need to be around for. Let her make her mistakes & go through what she has to go through & if it's real like that, ya'll will link up again when she's more settled in & has a little bit better understand of how the city works.

There's so much more that goes into a successful relationship besides having things in common with a person. When I was younger I thought similar interests were the end-all be-all but usually it isn't.

In most situations a person too much like you is actually a toxic situation. You don't need to date yourself; you need somebody to offset you & your faults & you need to be able to do the same with somebody else. Similar interests are cool but I'd rather have somebody around who forces me to be uncomfortable & puts me in those situations because that's how growth happens.

I think this tweet is pretty self-explanatory but I'll give you the story behind it.

Me & Scott were at this event & happened to meet these two women through one of my homies who were absolutely BEAUTIFUL. When they walked through the door I instantly knew they modeled & you know how much I love models. Usually I'm never bashful about shooting my shot but this time I backed off & kept it cool. Honestly, they looked like they were a little outside of my tax bracket at the moment.

Fast forward to the next day, one of my other homies calls me to recap the night. We get to talking about some of the girls who were there, then he mentioned them & then said they were going to come to the Doheny Room with us after, but she found somewhere to stay for the night....she's homeless.

There are so many stories like this around the city. So many women that you would never imagine would be living this way are living this way. The city is a crazy place.