Behind the Record: “Oxnard” by Anderson .Paak
It is one of the most anticipated albums of the year, and it’s finally here. On November 16, 2018, Anderson .Paak’s third album, Oxnard, was released, and he tells Billboard it’s the album he’s dreamed of making since he was in high school.
Oxnard is named after the beach town where Anderson .Paak grew up in. Often times when an artist grows up in an area where it’s not as crazy or as bustling as say, L.A. or New York, it can create a unique sound.
Oxnard is certainly ambitious, it was produced by the legendary Dr. Dre, along with producers, Mell, Pounds, Dem Jointz, Andre Brissett and Om’Mas Keith and is a big step up from .Paak’s previous albums. Once .Paak became a success, he had to readjust his approach when he was writing the album.
As he told Rolling Stone, when he became a success, “You’re trying to be the same person, but in a new car. Everything we made for Malibu we made from the dirt. We had the bare minimum. Now it’s trying to keep that same mentality, but when you have everything. When you’ve been eating calamari and lobster, when you’ve been going to festivals and playing for 40,000 people…You’re trying to keep the same principles you had when you just had a couch.”
The albums that influenced .Paak when he was creating Oxnard included Jay Z’s The Blueprint, The Game’s The Documentary, and Kanye West’s The College Dropout. The album is named after .Paak’s hometown, Oxnard, CA, and his previous albums were also named after two famous beach communities, Venice and Malibu.
The first single from the album, called Bubblin, was released earlier this year. Other singles from the album include Tints, which features Kendrick Lamar, and ‘Till It’s Over.
Artists Who Worked With .Paak on Oxnard
The Oxnard album wasn’t created in a vaccum. In fact, .Paak had a strong group of writers and guest performers working with him. On the opening track, The Chase, .Paak is performing with Kadhja Bonet. Bonet is the self-taught songwriter, musician who first broke through with her album The Visitor in 2016.
Other artists making guest appearances on the album include Snoop Dogg, Q-Tip, Pusha-T, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and more.
J. Cole was thrilled to contribute to Oxnard, and he told Hot New Hip Hop that when listening back to the song they did together, Trippy, “I just know there’s signs, when you’re on your path and you’re on your journey and you’re what I call being ‘in tune.’ I feel like you get signs and confirmations. I feel like God tossed you a sign and basically winked at you, and let you know that, ‘Yo, whatever you’re doing right now, don’t trip, you’re in the right spot. Everything’s cool.”
.Paak’s collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, Tints, had already been released before the release of the album, and the video for the song begins with a famous quote from Edgar Allan Poe: “Believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.”
The album includes has a tribute to the late Mac Miller called Cheers. Q-Tip guests on the song, where he drops the line, “So sick of sendin’ flower to all my of brothers mommas, don’t know what’s harder, fightin’ trauma or keepin’ a promise.”
Even with so many guest starts, NME’s review of Oxnard remarked that despite the album’s “staggering number” of heavy hitters, “.Paak doesn’t sound stifled.”
Oxnard Gets Topical
.Paak also gets political on the album, especially on the song 6 Summers. He told NPR, “Every day there’s a new situation that’s going on. So I had to write about it. Some artists are not affected, socially, with what’s going on around them. They create their own thing, and then maybe that helps other people escape that. I do that too. But I feel like with this album, I wanted to challenge myself and do other things.”
The album indeed features a wide variety of flavors, and as ABC News reports in their review of the album, “.Paak dons a 90’s vibe on the Snoop Dogg-assisted Anywhere (a song Bruno Mars helped write the hook on), and he takes cues from other genres too, like on the island-tinged Saviers Road, where shouts out his doubter and details the struggle of his come-up. Even with a house full of guests, and veteran Dre at his side, Paak seems to be in control, revealing new sounds and layers, serving up a solid (and then some) set.”
Calling the Dr…
When .Paak spoke to The Cruz Show, he made the understatement of the year. “Compton is very far from Oxnard.” And indeed, Dr. Dre and .Paak may be from two different worlds, but they worked very well together in the studio.
“Before I got to Dre, me and my team had did a lot,” he says. “So, it was unlike anything I feel that he’s ever done. For him to put his stamp on it…He was always like: ‘I want to be a part of what you doin’.’ He’s inspiring me and we’re working together on this project and it’s like this is our baby.”
Dr. Dre gave .Paak a big break using him for his Compton album, and he was a strong guiding force on the Oxnard album. “You need that,” .Paak told Entertainment Weekly, “because you’ll go crazy when you’re making these albums if you don’t have nobody to be your co-pilot.”
With Dre, .Paak found a partner who “just wants to have the most fun. I almost have to scale him back a lot of times. ‘Let’s get back to the hook, Dre! He just wants to make the craziest music ever. It was pure creative bliss.”
As Rolling Stone reports, Madlib also donated beats to the album as well. As .Paak explains, “I could tell it was Madlib from the jump, but it sounded different from what I was used to.”
While Dr. Dre is known for taking his sweet time on albums, Oxnard came together quicker than usual. In fact, the album was mixed in about two months time. It was finally announced on September 12 that it was done and soon to be unleashed on the world. Dr. Dre said in a social media post: “Just finished mixing the album. It’s a celebration bitches!” .Paak also said in an Instagram post, “Album Done. Time to bring it home.”