When asked about the fundamental difference between Oxnard and Ventura, two Anderson .Paak albums created at the same time and then released some five months apart, .Paak had this to say to Beats 1 host Zane Lowe: “I felt like one was made to be gritty, one was made to be pretty.” Sure, there are elements of both in each, but Ventura‘s easygoing vintage soul plays as a beautiful counterweight to the boundless energy of Oxnard. For his part, .Paak describes them as bookends to the same adventure: “One you could play on your way to Vegas and one you can play on your way back,” he said. “After you do all those horrible things and you can reflect on what you’ve done.” And like any Vegas trip worth its salt, Ventura, it would seem, was made great by way of the presence of friends. Read about the album’s creation, track by track, below.

“Come Home” feat. André 3000
“[With André 3000] I just had to be very patient. That’s all it was. I started losing hope for a second—I didn’t know if it was going to happen—and at the very last minute he came through, and he just exceeded all expectations. We were on tour. I think I was in Italy when he sent in the verse, and it just blew our head. You know, just like, ‘Whoa. What the hell?’”

“Make It Better” feat. Smokey Robinson
“Smokey came through. He said, ‘You got to make it nice, baby. You got to say something sweet to her, baby. If you want her to fall in love, you got to make love to her with your words, man.’ I was like, ‘Smokey, this is what I have: “It’s easier to run away than to eat what’s on your plate.”’ And he was like, ‘No, baby. What in the hell? No, no.’ He came back, ‘It’s easier to run away than to look at what would make you stay.’ I was like, ‘Godammit, Smoke.’”

”Reachin’ 2 Much” feat. Lalah Hathaway
“[Lalah Hathaway] is probably the only one smoother than me. She’s just beautiful, lovely, smoky tone, daughter of Donny Hathaway. Just soul legends in the building once again, another amazing artist to be able to work with. She came through right away. She did the session—actually, I was on tour and I was just kind of on the phone like, ‘Yo, tell her to try this and try that.’ And I came back and it was perfect.”

“Winners Circle”
“This one, the homies Vicky Nguyen and Kelsey Gonzales—they’re the Free Nationals—they brought this beat to me and I just loved it. It made me feel like the early stages of meeting someone and ‘is this the one?’ I was watching A Bronx Tale, when homegirl reaches over and opens the door for him, and all these different moments that you have when you first meet that person and when you’re talking to your folks. Like, ‘Mom, I met this girl, what you think, and what you think, Pops?’ Whoever you talk to to get that advice. It’s like that feeling.”

“Good Heels” feat. Jazmine Sullivan
“[Jazmine Sullivan] is like a young Aretha, just like ain’t taking no mess. I was like, ‘Hey, Jazmine, what you want, you want some water? Yo, I got some songs, I got some musicians, what’s up?’ She’s like, ‘Hold on. I’m not ready to speak yet.’ She came up with the whole concept and everything: You’re doing your thing and your girl is out. She’s coming home and you just got through messing with another girl in the house and then thinking you’re getting away with it, but then the other girl you was messing with forgot her keys and stuff. The song came about so quick, and we was all trying not to piss Jazmine off. And then we ended up making a little smash.”

“Yada Yada”
“I remember starting this in Patchwerk Studios in Atlanta. It’s about being on the road and that balance of dealing with the fact that the longer I stay home, the broker we are, so I have to go out and do things. Me being away is a part of it, but when I come back, it’s like I realize if I ever take this life for granted, you gotta show me how dumb that is. So it’s kinda like having that conversation with my son. I’ve been getting used to the perks—chicken wings and sushi, doing all kinds of stuff on the road and coming back and breaking bread with my family. Songs like [Oxnard’s] ‘Saviers Road’ are like an overview of what’s going on, and this is another one of those.”

“King James”
“Salute [LeBron] James, salute to Kaepernick, salute to all the modern leaders. All the people that’s using their platform to shed light on social issues and issues that are important and sometimes get overlooked. I didn’t get to grow up in the days of Muhammad Ali. He was a huge activist and he was one of the biggest athletes, but he was not afraid to talk about what was going on. I feel like this is just the age of awakening. Everybody’s just not falling for the okey-doke. And when people feel strongly about something, a lot can happen.”

“Chosen One” feat. Sonyae Elise
“Me and Sonyae Elise hooked up, longtime collaborators—always a fun time when we’re in the studio. We’re just like clockwork, natural. We just start writing 50 songs and we have to kinda like wrangle ourselves in. We sampled the homie Mac DeMarco on this one. Even got some of Sean Price vocals in there. It’s a cool future-funk tune.”

“Jet Black” feat. Brandy
“Brandy was one of the hugest stars coming up: Moesha, all the videos, and just the music. It’s just incredible when I think about it, like, to make something that’s not forced and that feels so natural. And she sounds good. We sound good. It’s just a good dance tune. I feel like it’s gonna be a nice little overseas joint.”

“Pharrell is crazy, man. That’s the only person I see that can make a beat, have a meeting, be talking about clothing options and materials and making tea and giving counseling all at the same time. It was just one of the craziest sessions. His brain is moving a mile a minute. He got in there, got his little keyboard out, and just hopped on and just started making the beat right away. He did the backgrounds on this one, and I had Tayla Parx, who co-wrote ‘Tints,’ she was in there. We were just vibing.”

“What Can We Do?” feat. Nate Dogg
“This came through by way of Fredwreck. He was just always around and just always lending a helping hand, whether we needed percussion or a guitar here or keys here. When I was wrapped with Ventura, he was like, ‘Yo, I got this joint, it’s one of the last joints Nate Dogg did before he had his stroke, and I want you to put it on your album if you love it.’ And I heard it, just loved it right away. I wanted to do something a little more creative, where it almost sound like a duet, going back and forth, and something that might sound like we coulda when he was still here. And that’s exactly what we did.”