“Aight, get off my stage, n***a.” Anderson .Paak’s words lack the bite that usually comes with such a succinct command. Instead, it’s the kind of lax scold that one brother quips to another before erupting in laughter right after. Just moments prior, .Paak and BJ the Chicago Kid bobbed and weaved across the small Austin, Texas stage, pacing around each other playfully as they traded bar for riff on “The Waters,” .Paak's Malibu single melding BJ's honeyed riffs with Anderson’s rasp and scratch. With a chuckle and a playful shove, BJ surrendered his microphone and let his fellow singer, songwriter, drummer and soulful music contemporary regain solo status during his set.
There's a refreshing chemistry that exists between Anderson .Paak and BJ the Chicago Kid, but even more satisfactory is witnessing the similar strides they've both taken in their careers this year. Anderson and BJ are giving 2016 a run for its money. Both dropped projects right out the gate, critical darlings that brought warmth to the winter months with Malibu and In My Mind, respectively. Both musical lotharios—each signed to a respected label (Aftermath Entertainment and Motown Records) with roots running deep in black music's foundation—have put in 10 years worth of hours before reaping the benefits of all they have sown. And right now is their time.
During the stretch of this year’s bustling festival season—whether it's under the greying skies of Washington D.C. for Broccoli City Festival, tucked away from Austin’s unforgiving sunbeams at SXSW, or anywhere else in the social media catalogue of their run-ins— we’ve had the pleasure of seeing their bromance bless the stages of numerous festivals, and then some. Horsing around with humorous banter off stage before parting ways with their crews, throwing back celebratory shots before manning their own respective fest sets and their nationwide link-ups chronicled on their social media accounts.
It's not so often that you find a crop of vocalists tag-team the way they do—like real life brothers—unthreatened by occupying the same musical space time and time again. Cheering each other on in their separate climbs.
Luckily for us, and for you, our August 2016 cover stories captured the best of both worlds.