Everything That Went Wrong Between Anderson .Paak and Dr. Dre On ‘Oxnard’
Just months after his last album and hours away from the release of Ventura, I take a look at why this epic collaboration failed to execute.
.Paak Lost Track Of His Identity On Oxnard
Just five months ago, Anderson .Paak dropped his long-awaited album Oxnard. The hype was real — with executive production from hip hop legend Dr. Dre and coming off the undeniable success of Malibu, it seemed like .Paak was preparing to deliver another masterpiece.
Although I was beyond excited for its release, the project was an underwhelming mix of tracks that left me hungering for more of the unique qualities I’ve come to expect from an Anderson .Paak album.
The funk. The soul. The spectacular lyrics over gorgeous melodies. Everything that put .Paak in a lane of his own was replaced by crude in-your-face raps over Dre’s signature gritty hip-hop centric beats.
Oxnard, ironically named after .Paak’s hometown, offers little in terms of personality and minimizes the aspects of Anderson .Paak that make his music special.
Where those qualities shine, on songs like “Trippy,” “Anywhere,” and the latter half of “6 Summers,” the result is nothing short of magnificent, but the inauthentic braggadocious tracks to the tune of “Left to Right” and “Mansa Musa” are downright unbearable.
In short — the album felt more like Dr. Dre, and less like Anderson .Paak. So when I heard Cheeky Andy announce a second album just three months after Oxnard, I was beyond thrilled.
Named after the city of Ventura, which .Paak describes as “the town over, a little more quiet, more peaceful,” the album promises to be a return to form, with .Paak stating “[Ventura] gave me a lot more character and soul, I think I got more soul music to present.”
While this is great news, it begs the question of what went wrong between .Paak and Dre on Oxnard. Releasing another album so quickly signifies that .Paak realizes that his effort with Dre didn’t live up to its full potential, and he is out for redemption.
How Much Of An Influence Did Dre Really Have On Oxnard?
When the project was first announced, .Paak posted this screenshot of a text where Dre says:
“Thank you for letting me just do my own thing with your project. I promise I won’t let you down.”
Like all of us, .Paak was clearly excited about the collab at first, but since announcing Ventura, he has made comments that seem like attempts to distance himself from the album, constantly indicating that Dre was in the driver's seat throughout the process.
In a recent interview with Esquire, .Paak elaborated on Dre’s involvement, saying:
“[Dre] wanted to get his chance to work with me…[I was] allowing myself to open up and be produced and to be more of a vessel.”
He also added that throughout the recording process he worked in Dr. Dre’s studio along with Dre’s writers and producers.
Appearing on The Tonight Show in February, .Paak spoke on his working relationship with Dre, telling Jimmy Fallon, “both of us are perfectionists, so it’s really frustrating sometimes.”
Fallon then asked if the two ever butted heads, and .Paak responded with a resounding “absolutely, his head is bigger than mine too, he’s bigger, so it’s like, alright Dre, sounds good to me.”
.Paak Plans To Keep It Incubated On Ventura
Not only does Anderson promise the return of soul on Ventura, but he told Esquire Dre will play much less of a role on this album, saying:
“‘I wanted to keep it as incubated as I could…I drove myself crazy with Oxnard. That was almost why I was like, I’m about to put [Ventura] over to the side now, like a ‘break in case of emergency.’”
Elaborating on how the recording process of his new project would differ from that of Oxnard, .Paak added that:
“[Dre] let me have a lot of leeway on Ventura. He was like, it seems like you got it. I spread my wings on the production and on the writing and on these collaborations.”
Anderson’s Mom Responds To The Oxnard Haters
Regardless of how I felt about it, when faced with criticism, .Paak turned to the person we can always count on to be in our corner — his mom.
Following his interview with Esquire, DJBooth published an article titled “Anderson .Paak’s ‘Ventura’ Album Will Be an Anderson .Paak Album,” slamming Oxnard for being inauthentic and professing excitement for a new project outside of Dr. Dre’s influence.
.Paak saw the article and sent it to his mom — you can see her response below:
Anderson .Paak Clearly Hasn’t Lost His Touch
While there’s no denying that he threw us for a loop with Oxnard, Andy’s statements indicate that he took the criticism to heart and is ready to return with a vengeance.
Ventura’s two singles both showcase an incredible comeback that exemplifies all the things that put .Paak at the top of his game. “King James” boasts a funky irresistible vibe, and “Make It Better” is a silky smooth love ballad that sounds like it came straight out of the Motown Era.
Even if Oxnard wasn’t my favorite, I can't wait to see what else the man with the self-proclaimed “best teeth in the game” has to offer us next. Ventura comes out tonight at 9PM PST/12AMEST. Check out the tracklist for the album below.
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