Artist Spotlight: Anderson .Paak


Courtesy of The West Effect

By Austin Weimer

In 2011, Anderson .Paak’s rise to fame began with the release of Lovejoy under the name Breezy Lovejoy. The album immediately distinguished Paak from R&B artists of the past, as he combined his vocal talent with smooth drumming, a style that grew out of his church experiences in Oxnard, California. Songs on the album featured him either playing drums while singing or rapping over deep kick drums and spacey sound effects. This pushed his music across multiple planes of hip-hop, R&B, soul, and jazz, and awarded him a spot in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene.

From 2012-2014, Paak flew under the radar of mainstream music, working on albums O.B.E. Vol. 1, Cover Art, and Venice, which built on his house and dance style tracks.

From there, his interest in reworking classic rock and folk songs into modern R&B tracks led him to cross paths with Knxwledge in late 2015. Knxwledge’s sample selection for most of his tracks reaches back to classic soul albums like Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. Their project, Nxworries, included live performances of singles “Suede” and “Link Up” from The Dungeon, a merchandise warehouse owned by their label, Stones Throw Records. The album itself is reminiscent of 1980s Barry White and James Brown with slowed-down samples from “The Bottle” by Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson.

After seeing Paak’s live show with Knxwledge in Russia, artist and repertoire scouters from Aftermath Entertainment, Dr. Dre’s record label, played “Suede” for Dr. Dre in person and he loved it. He then took on the role of mentor for Paak, allowing him perform to on six tracks from his 2015 album, Compton: The Soundtrack.

Because of this release, Paak inherited an audience bigger than he had ever known. His newest album, Malibu, dropped on January 15, meriting him a spot on the cover of L.A. Record. This album features notable rappers and hip-hop artists, such as Schoolboy Q, Rapsody, Sonyae Elise, and The Game. Rolling Stone compared the writing of Malibu to that of current hip-hop sensation Kendrick Lamar in his album To Pimp a Butterfly.

More recently, in a radio interview with BBC host Gilles Peterson, Paak hinted at a possible collaboration with Flying Lotus, forerunner for the experimental hip-hop and jazz scene. Fans are looking forward to what this might bring.

On February 4, Paak made his US television debut by performing new songs “Silicon Valley” and “Carry Me” with his band The Free Nationals, who support him during live shows, on Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show.

In a profile of Paak, notable YouTube music critic Sway Calloway said he “recognized he is not just someone who is a singer, or someone who is a rapper, or someone who reads lyrics…he is a well-rounded, complete artist.”

Paak is currently headlining the Off The Ground Tour in Europe from February 11 to March 1. Eight of the fifteen venues booked have already sold out, so get your tickets soon.

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