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Anderson .Paak | Oxnard

You wouldn't want to live there, but the polymath makes it a nice place to visit.

You know the old saying: You can’t go home again. That’s totally wrong, of course; people do it all the time. The trick is to go back in triumph, not defeat. Granted, it’s not something everybody can manage — but Anderson .Paak has no trouble pulling it off on his third full-length album Oxnard. Titled after his old California stomping grounds, the final chapter in his so-called “beach albums” series — and the followup to Venice and his commercial breakthrough Malibu — finds the 32-year-old artist continuing to craft his own unique sound midway between the vintage freewheeling funk of George Clinton and P-Funk, the slow-rolling West Coast G-rap of mentor and producer Dr. Dre, and the literate social commentary of soundalike rapper Kendrick Lamar. Lamar is just one highlight on a guest list that includes Pusha T, Snoop Dogg, J. Cole, Q-Tip and even an ancient Rodney Dangerfield clip. But nobody upstages .Paak on his turf. On the musical side, it obviously helps that he’s an absurdly talented polymath — “young, gifted and amazing,” in his own humble terms — who’s equally adept at writing, singing, rapping and drumming, among other skills. On the lyrical tip, he wisely avoids viewing both his past environs or his present circumstances through rose-coloured glasses — these songs deal with everything from gun violence and Donald Trump to crime, car crashes and sex workers. So when it’s all said and done, even if you wouldn’t want to live there, Oxnard is still a nice place to visit. Make yourself at home.

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