New Single “King James” is an interesting preview to Anderson .Paak’s upcoming album Ventura


Powerful and politically charged.

These are the words that can be used to describe both the emotions inflicted as well as the subliminal messages produced by the typically soul-funk artist Anderson .Paak. Recently, he announced that his upcoming album Ventura will be released on April 12. To preview this new album, which comes just months after his latest LP Oxnard, Paak debuted a one-of-a-kind single: “King James.”

Characteristic to its name, “King James” pays homage to Lebron James and the controversy surrounding the kneeling during the national anthem at the NFL. The song begins with an instrumental introduction that does a fantastic job of hooking the listener; the beat is just interesting enough to keep one listening, while also being both long and short enough to hold interest without becoming boring. The lyrics, while pleasing on the ears, also possess deep meaning. Paak’s soul-filled voice chants phrases like, “We’ve been through it all, but it could be worse,” “They can’t gentrify the heart of kings,” and “Everything they tried to hide, we’re taking back” make “King James” an anthem for hard times.

Overall, the song remains a call to action for not just Americans but civilians of the world who are experiencing upheaval. Themes of love from neighbors, family, friends, and from overseas make the track a powerful listening experience. This combined with interesting, almost unidentifiable background beats make it a song that’s hard to put on pause. “King James” finishes just as it started, with an extended yet interesting series of instrumentals.

This isn’t the first time that Paak has preceded an upcoming album with a release of a new song. In 2018, he released his single “Who r u?” in a prelude to his album Oxnard, inspired by his hometown in California.

Oxnard features more rap elements than his previous albums and contains less soul than one would expect based on his earlier creations. The songs, however, could foreshadow an album, such as Ventura, that is more politically charged and mature overall.

His 2016 album Malibu contains another vibe entirely, with tracks that seem calmer, featureless rap, and have meaning but are less politically centered.  One of the most popular songs on the album, “Parking Lot,” is a very upbeat song that radiates feelings of summer.

Perhaps, since Malibu is an earlier album of his, it features fewer additional artists. Instead, it features a select few such as Rapsody, Schoolboy Q, and Talib Kweli. This can be attributed to his growing popularity in time with the growing numbers of featured artists on his latest albums. The overall theme of the 2016 album can also be attributed to the changing times of America and also his own evolution as an artist based on the political climate.

His earliest ever album, which was released in 2014 and entitled Venice, featured only one artist– SiR– and has the type of rap songs for people who aren’t into rap. The songs are filled with feeling and have a certain kind of “dancing” beat. The tracks seem to be filled with a little bit of everything, kind of like he was playing around in order to see what his style was and where he planned to go next. Songs about familiar themes such as love like “Right There” and “Miss Right” have interesting beats and are the kind of songs that make you feel the need to stop and feel the music radiate through your headphones.

The progression of his albums clearly plays into the changing climate of America and its effects on groups of people in America. By catering to the growing concerns over speaking out about the situations in America, Paak is able to use his talents to create songs that hold substantial meaning while also being enjoyable to listeners everywhere.

The combination of these things makes “King James” a beautiful prelude to what will certainly be an even more beautiful album.