The moment I heard Anderson .Paak’s new single “King James”, I knew this album was going to be good. The energy of this song conveyed through soul with soul and a message is both positive and strong. It makes you smile with hope. That’s meaningful and so, so relevant. So when I woke up this morning and listened to the eleven songs of Ventura (don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s eleven by the way) I was surprised by the lightness and playfulness of Paak’s new project.
Starting out with an angelic choir and promising drum roll the first song of the album “Come Home” let’s the listener dive right into the VIBE. “I’m begging you please come home, no one even begs anymore” he sings and André 3000’s eloquent spoken poem is the cherry on top for this Sundae vibe track. Next is “Make It Better” with Smokey Robinson which is about reviving a love that is slowly getting rusty, “and it’s easier to run away than to look for what would make you stay, do you want to make it better, do you want to stay together?”. I feel like this is going to be a hymn of hope for a lot of couples, at least that would be nice. Opposite to this, on “Reaching’ 2 Much” with Lalah Hathaway, Anderson .Paak is giving up hope and talking about walking away from a relationship.
Not limiting himself to one topic, this album feels like lots of different snapshots and stories from his life. Speaking on relationships, struggles, his career and lessons he’s learned like protecting his energy (“Yada Yada”), all in all this album is much lighter than some of his previous projects where he spoke much deeper about his hardships. A feature I was especially pleasantly surprised by, was Brandy on “Jet Black”. Let me tell you, this clap-along song will definitely be played at a lot of rooftop parties this Summer. “Twilight”, produced by the legendary Pharrell Williams, embodies that 90’s vibe by the Neptunes and is a lovely tell of a mutually supportive relationship, “You’re my twilight when it’s awfully dark and I lost my way”. However, the most surprising feature of the album is definitely on the 11th song. Anderson .Paak makes Nate Dogg come back to life on this one through unreleased vocals. Ironically, at the end of the track, you can hear him tell Paak to erase his part. Well we’re glad he didn’t. R.I.P. Nate Dogg.
Fun fact, if you were wondering about the dot in Anderson .Paak’s name, according to him it stands for detail. That’s why I advise you to pay close attention to the details of “Ventura”. This is definitely a piece of work that will reveal new layers of sound and meaning with every new listen. Also, I think it’s very special that Paak used a picture with his son Soul Rasheed as the artwork for this album.
That’s it from me. Enjoy!