First thing you need to know is that I’m old and new. Old in age and new in writing stuff like this so bear with me. This also means that while I’m a lover of music, especially certain genres. I’m old so I have lamented the deterioration (in my eyes) of the state of “mainstream” R&B, Hip Hop, and Soul over the last decade or so. Now there is still a ton of great stuff out here to find but you have to look for it. When I find some good stuff you feel obligated to shout from the rooftops to share it. I have been following Anderson.Paak for years now but always felt like his best stuff comes when he is loose and breezy. Malibu was excellent and Oxnard was a great if harder edged listen but the album he made at the same time as Oxnard but released months later is, for me, his best work as a whole.
My lamentations of those aforementioned genres are addressed all in one with this Ventura. Every song seems to have a little bit of everything and balanced well. More than any work he’s done before this one flows from one track to the other seamlessly. Soul oozes from each cut starting with the opening song “Come Home” which features an absolutely bananas verse from Andre 3000 that will keep up calls for him to one day put out his long requested solo work. (I’d take just an Outkast album failing that) From that strong opening he rolls into a great duet “Make It Better”with the legendary Smokey Robinson and it just keeps going from there with great guests on more than a few cuts. From the always amazing Lalah Hathaway to Brandy and Jasmine Sullivan. We ends the 11 deep album with a duet with the departed but always missed Nate Dogg on “What Can I Do”.
Ventura tilts more towards R&B than anything else but Anderson’s lyrical rapping skill shines all over the place and he is one of the few who can dip and blend that with his unique singing voice effortlessly and enjoyably. This stands out on “Yada Yada” where is goes over the life of being on the road and being home dealing with stressors of life. “Winner’s Circle” and “Chosen One” shine with wonderful musical and lyrical arrangements. Good Heels featuring Jasmine Sullivan is a short but is a hilarious cut which I can’t spoil….you just have to hear it. Lastly King James is a breezy but powerful sociopolitical song giving a bit of a shout out to Lebron James and his philanthropic work as well as commenting on current events.
Ventura is one of the best listens to come around in a long time and hopefully it will get the recognition it deserves. A definite A+ in my book.
Till next time…..