For a man who’s soft spoken and oozing humility, budding singer-songwriter, Anderson. Paak has a lot to humblebrag about in 2015. After appearing on Dr. Dre’s Compton, .Paak is following up the blessings with a joint EP alongside production duo, Blended Babies, called The Anderson .Paak EP. The four-track project featuring Asher Roth, Donnie Trumpet, and King Chip is a mellow sound trip practically made for a late-night drive with smooth melodies and soul-stirring vocals. But to understand .Paak’s talents, you must first learn his come-up.
The Oxnard, Calif. native (born Brandon Anderson Paak) grew up as the only male in a Southern Baptist household full of sisters (two older and one younger). By the time .Paak hit high school, both of his parents were incarcerated. Despite his struggles growing up, the tough times gifted him thicker skin.
“A lot of the hardships created a big impact on me and built a lot of my character,” he recently told VIBE. “Growing up in a house where there was a lot of different musical influences—my mom listens to soul stuff and Top 40, my sisters would listen to hip-hop—and the church, I grew up listening to a lot of gospel stuff. So I think that plays a role in how I make music now because my music has a lot of range. I don’t just do one thing.”
Anderson, formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy, two-stepped into music around the tender age of 10. While tots around him wanted to rap, he told his mom he wanted to play drums, grabbing his first drum set at 12. This eventually opened the doors to producing, DJing, followed by writing and creating his own music. He released his debut album Violets Are Blue in 2010, along with a string of albums under indie label, Hellfyre Club.
Being reared on old-school jams a la D’Angelo, Michael Jackson and Marvin Gaye had made him feel like a musical outcast. “Sometimes I feel like the stuff that’s coming out right now, I don’t always gravitate towards right away,” he says. “I feel like I got an old soul and I should have came up in the ’60s or ’70s or something but I think it’s needed now. I think it’s a great time to be alive as an artist.”
As for his stage name, the stylized dot because it represents detail. The half African-American, half-Korean maestro has a very warm, edgy and eclectic style that’s rooted in classic soul, funk, blues rock, and a splash of hip-hop. With a wide vocal range and versatile style, .Paak dares to be different as seen in videos like “Luh You” and “Sadie.”
Enter his latest offering The Anderson .Paak EP with the Blended Babies. Inspired by Left Coast vibes and weed smoke, the soulful four-track album was a culmination of vibes between the two parties who met through mutual friend, Evan Bogart. With Blended’s JP and Rich Gains lengthy list of collaborators from Anthony Hamilton to OutKast, Anderson’s talent spoke for itself.
“[Anderson] can do all these beats on his own but he’s so humble to say, ‘Hey man, I’ll do all this soulful sh*t over ya’ll beats,” recalls JP. “He’s confident, but he’s humble when he does his thing.”
That same confident swagger eventually placed on Dr. Dre’s first LP in over a decade called Compton, which started after the rap mogul heard .Paak’s song “Suede” with producer Knxwledge. “They called me initially to work with DJ Dahi and I didn’t know that was gonna happen,” says Anderson. “When I got to the studio, Dre and DOC was right there and I was like, ‘Oh sh*t, this is actually real.” Anderson holds his own on several tracks including “All in a Day’s Work,” “Animals,” “For The Love Of Money,” “Issues,” and one of the bigger standout tracks, “Deep Water.”
Like his track record, Anderson .Paak’s future plans don’t include following trends. “What I think is happening is everyone wants to be in the trap right now,” he says of today’s musical landscape. “I think there’s a void for some authentic soul music with an edge. I think there’s some people who grew up with Motown and Stevie Wonder that still can appreciate Future, Drake and all these different things, too, but there shouldn’t be a void for those people, as well. That’s [the music] I want to do.”—Mark Braboy (@DRD_Poetry17)