Venutra is the sibling album to 2018’s Oxnard. Both were intended for the same purpose, but Paak said he didn’t want to perform too many songs while he was touring, so he separated these songs into another album and released it in 2019. Both these albums represent the two cities he grew up in and both carry the soulful tunes that influenced him. This album was executively produced by Dr. Dre.
Why You Should Listen to This Album:
Serving as part II to Oxnard and outside of “Make it Better,” this album has been under the radar. Anderson. Paak is one of the rare renaissance artists who carry a multitude of talents. He sings and raps and drums and can do all three in a performance. While Oxnard was a blend of soul and contemporary hip hop, Ventura carried all the soul. There are traditional hip hop blends which give this album its identity, but all its weight is in the soulful singing and funky basslines.
Five Favorite Songs:
Come Home (Featuring Andre 3000):
A Motown inspired track. This song has two halves, the first half is Paak singing to his lover to come back home. The second half of this song rapping to the lover to come home. As catchy and soulful Paak is during this song, the star of this song is none other than Andre 3000. His verse begins off-beat and then hops on and off throughout the song. He uses intricate rhymes, meter and metaphors to create such a unique verse. The first two bars, “You’re all I need, all of me, on my knees, normally harmony, bumblee, hummingbird” combines all of these. Try saying these bars outloud and you can hear the intricacies laced throughout. Andre 3000 isn’t normally in the conversation for the greatest rapper of all time, but this verse alone carries so much weight in how he bends the rules of rapping and makes it his own.
Make It Better (Featuring Smokey Robinson):
A throwback vibe about two lovers who fell out of love but Paak is trying to mend it. The combination of bass, keys, drums and string synths give a huge Motown vibe, very reminiscent of Stevie Wonder. The drums are hip hop style boom bap drums complementing the Motown vibes making this throwback more contemporary. Robinson joins Paak on the hook and makes it into a great soulful duet. This song deservedly is the single of this album.
An ode to NBA superstar and philanthropist LeBron James. James sets himself apart from other basketball greats by using his name and status as a means of helping others. The most notable feat being opening up a school, I PROMISE, in his hometown Akron, Ohio. It provides kids with free lunches and school uniforms and is impacting many kids. He’s spoken up about the injustices toward African-Americans and was once told to “shut up and dribble.” Even against the opposition, James is doing his best to lift others up. The song itself is talks about legacy and the impact you’ll make once you’re off this earth. The only line that references’ James is “And we salute King James for using his change
To create some equal opportunities.” James’s impact is seen through many and Paak himself wants to make something similar.
Jet Black (Featuring Brandy):
Paak has found himself a nice lover. Pear shaped with Jet black hair. It seems like he left his lover and found a new summer fling. The song gives off Dang! by Mac Miller vibes because of its funk bassline and electronic keys. Brandy provides soulful back up vocals. This song is designed to take us back in time.
What Can We Do? (Featuring Nate Dogg):
One of Nate Dogg’s posthumous tracks, this one is a certified banger. Paak used Nate Dogg’s unrealeased vocals in this song. Reminds me of Warren G’s “regulate” in terms of the sound mixed with Motown. Paak built this song after Dogg’s vocals and it is about him contemplating about what to do after he and his lover moved out.
Ventura took us back in time to the good ol’ days. A lot of soul mixed with rap. He jumps back into the 70’s and the 90’s. Ventura is sure to get your hips shaking, I definitely recommend checking out the rest of the songs!