If you like Outkast, you will like Anderson Paak. If you like Kendrick Lamar, you will like Anderson Paak. If you like Frank Ocean, you will like Anderson Paak. Hell, if you like James Brown odds are you will like this dude. And if you don’t like any of those people I just listed, then I probably don’t like you and you should stop reading now… But seriously- Anderson Paak is the one of the best new hip-hop artists I’ve come across in recent years. As fate would have it, I first heard Paak courtesy of a late night, drunken “Shazam” app (if you don’t have that app – get it. It’s helped me discover some weird/amazing stuff) song match walking thru the Bonnaroo campgrounds last summer. That song “Paint” led me to his debut Venice which then lead to his second and biggest album Malibu and now, low and behold, I’m a certified fan.
Paak (pronounced like “pack”) has an absurd backstory, which somehow magically makes his music better? I’m no scientist but somehow that always makes sense, right? I digress… Hailing from the mean streets of Oxnard, California north of LA, the 30-year old singer/rapper has only been in the mass public spectrum for a few years since his involvement in Dr. Dre’s Detox in 2015. A tumultuous childhood led Paak to a job at a weed-growing farm in Northern California in his mid-20s, struggling to provide for his pregnant wife as he found his musical footing. After losing his bud-trimming gig, he struggled with homelessness before finding work as a session musician , playing drums for various artists around LA while releasing his debut album to limited fanfare. A producer friend showed the legendary Dr. Dre some of his recorded tunes and the “father of rap” brought him in to help on his highly anticipated third album. Paak appeared on six songs on Detox and the rest was history.
2016’s outstanding Malibu showcases Paak’s versatility as he toggles between rap, soul, funk, jazz and old school R&B. Anderson’s raspy vocals and crooning style quickly bring out Kendrick comparisons, which makes sense given their west coast roots. He’s definitely more of a singer than a rapper, but that doesn’t mean he can’t display some creative wordplay. His ability to sound like a 70’s funk singer in one song (“Come Down”) and Big Boi in the next (“The Waters”) exemplifies why people should be taking note of this budding superstar. Guitar-riff-driven beats galore, the songs are well produced and groovy enough to be played extensively at your next house party. Through his albums and various guest spots, Paak has appeared on songs with Schoolboy Q, TI, and Mac Miller among others and seems to outshine all of these higher-profile artists every time.
I’m very excited for the opportunity to see this dude live in concert, which I’m sure will be very soon. In the meantime I’ll just watch this video of him and his touring band, The Free Nationals, on a loop…
Noteworthy Tracks: “Come Down” “The Bird” “The Season/ Carry Me”
Oddities: Released an all covers album in 2013 entitled Cover Art that features “Seven Nation Army” and “Such Great Heights” among others
Photo Credits – MTV.com, Wweek.com