Oxnard, California native Anderson .Paak is single-handedly redefining the West Coast hip hop and R&B scene, even if no one’s noticed yet. Anderson’s inclination to fuse soul, rap, hip hop, and jazz is a fresh reminder that West-Coast Hip-Hop has dynamism and a rich variety. His journey to becoming a Grammy-nominated artist under Dr. Dre’s notorious Aftermath Entertainment, a staple of West Coast rap, is unique, methodical and best showcased through his effervescent music.
Despite encountering a series of hardships that often encapsulate the life of a struggling artist, such as unemployment and eviction, Anderson’s hustle paid off when he was able to release several projects under the alias “Breezy Lovejoy”, including Cover Art in 2013, an EP composed entirely of classic folk and rock. .Paak repurposed these covers as a medley of jazz, soul, hip-hop and rap, and the EP only began to uncover the true potential of .Paak, serving as a foundation from which Paak could began refining his style.
Following his EP, .Paak released his debut album in 2014, titled Venice. A crucial step in his career, Venice served as the first genuine opportunity to showcase his plethora of talent and his dramatic mixing of musical genres that continues to set him apart from the rest.
Though Venice went unnoticed commercially, it served as a statement. After an intriguing career start that included touring as American Idol contest Haley Rhinehart’s drummer, it was obvious that .Paak was ready for the world and had an aura of self-belief. .Paak was now beginning to find his place in the music world. The debut album covers various subject matters over a variety of instrumentals that may seem sporadic at first, but they ultimately help to form a more developed, musically cohesive album.
“Might Be,” for example, has massive hip hop appeal because of its layered drums that seamlessly compliment a mellow, soothing sample of Xscape’s 1995 track “Who Can I Run To”. The content of the song is rather commonplace in hip hop, as .Paak sings about drug consumption and intimate relations. However, .Paak’s unique, yet effective lyrical delivery adds the fusion of soul and jazz that has helped define his career thus far. “Might Be” has even been covered by the likes of artists such as DJ Luke Nasty, a #veryrare SoundCloud artist certified by Jefe himself, who gained notable acclaim on SoundCloud, with .Paak’s undeniable talent serving as inspiration. Other heaters from the album include “Put You On”, “Luh You,” “Miss Right,” and “Off The Ground.”
Following the release of his debut album, .Paak’s acclaim only continued to rise, with notable achievements including working on Dr. Dre’s album Compton and The Game’s album, The Documentary 2, in 2015.
In light of his success and inevitable recognition, Paak released Malibu on January 15th ,2016 to critical acclaim. Guest appearances on the album included The Game, ScHoolboy Q, BJ The Chicago Kid, and Talib Kweli, only solidifying the ascension of Anderson .Paak as one of the most unique and creative artists coming out of the west-coast hip-hop scene. Through Malibu, .Paak not only brought the distinctive style that was commonplace in Venice, but also continued to hone his multi-tasking ability, fusing genres flawlessly.
A personal favorite of mine, “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” gives you a soulful glimpse into .Paak’s pursuit of a lady. The beginning is rather abrupt, with heavy drums that lead into the hook, seemingly identifying that fiery moment when you first connect with someone. And then, the beat drops. .Paak’s voice and the instrumental he blesses become one for a moment, as .Paak continues expressing his lust soulfully, while effortlessly switching between various flows and pitches.
In similar fashion, "The Season/Carry Me" brings the same soul but with rapping as his central outlet. The song and .Paak undeniably nod to hip hop, and especially rap, as a genre with the format of the song and especially an intentional influence by the producers, 9th Wonder and Callum Connor. As some may have noticed, a masterful beat switch takes place, fusing two parts with distinct lyrics and instrumentals into a colorful, emotional, musical odyssey. This technique was similarly done by DJ Premier in Jay Z’s “Medley Intro/A Million and One Questions” from his 1997 project, In My Lifetime Vol. 1. A soothing and tasteful mesh of technique and his vocal presence only complimented .Paak’s content, as he first raps about a troubled past, a present grind, and a hopeful future. Further 'tings' from the album may include but are not limited to “Lite Weight,” “The Dreamer,” “Am I Wrong,” and “Without You.”
Following stellar albums with nothing but heat, Anderson .Paak’s fame only continued to rise, signing to Aftermath just 15 days after releasing Malibu. He has since been nominated for a Grammy in both the Best New Artist and Best Urban Contemporary Album categories for Malibu. .Paak is unlike any other artist coming out of the West Coast, and with musical roots inspired in various genres such as jazz and classic rock, he is able to connect with people worldwide. Anderson .Paak will be touring worldwide for his hit album this coming summer, beginning with Norfolk on June 5th. Be sure to peep the featured heat below.
- Christian Arita