Anderson .Paak is becoming a household name. His new album, “Malibu”, is receiving intense positive feedback from the people that matter in this situation, that being the fans and people in the industry that can help Anderson further his career. The lucky that ended up scooping up Anderson’s talents was Dr. Dre, himself. Paak signed to Dre’s Aftermath label as he continues to climb his meteoric rise.
Before any of this happened OogeeWoogee was there and interviewed a much less known but just as talented Anderson .Paak and today we wanted to revisit the interview before he ended up on basically half of Dre. Dre’s Compton and before he had a hit album himself.
Written by Antonio Prata
Yesterday evening I had the sick opportunity to attend the soundcheck for Watsky’s show at Union Transfer and got to sit down with Anderson Paak to speak on a variety of topics ranging from musical appropriation to his relationship with Watsky:
OogeeWoogee: First off, welcome to Philly! Is this your first time here?
Anderson Paak: No, I’ve been out here a few times. I actually have family out here. I’ve played shows out here, like, probably, like three different times.
OW: What was the livest show you played on the tour so far? Which cities were your favorite?
AP: It’s kind of tough cause it’s, like, such a blur but, I mean, the Carolinas were fun; I did Carrboro and Charlotte. Austin is always fun. Orlando was fun.
OW: How did you and Watsky link up, and what’s it like performing with him? Your brands of music are pretty different. Do you feel like there’s a decent amount of crossover? Are a lot of Watsky fans also Anderson Paak fans? Did you fuck with Watsky’s music before you knew him?
AP: Honestly, I had heard a few things but I wasn’t really a big fan of his music. I met him through a mutual friend, Dumbfoundead, and I had heard some stuff and I wasn’t really that into it, but then I met him, and I just fucked with him on a personal level. Then he hit me up probably, like, last year or two when he was going in to produce his new album, All You Can Do, and was like ‘I really respect your sound and I want to know if you’ll produce the new album’ and I was like ‘cool’. I really fucked with how focused he was. When I got in the lab with him that’s when I really started respecting his craft and his work ethic.
I feel like, initially, a lot of Watsky fans probably weren’t fans of my music, but after they see the live show, they become crossover fans. I’ve seen, through Twitter and Instagram, after I played the show and after this album came out, a lot of his fans started to crossover. Not all of them get it, but the ones who see the show usually really appreciate it, and it carries over.
OW: Word. Last year you put out an EP called Cover Art, where you cover songs by all White artists, (including The Beatles, Neil Young and White Stripes) as a sort of reverse homage to the history of appropriation in Western music. What exactly did you hope to accomplish with that release? Lately in the music world, especially in Hip Hop and other genres typically viewed as marginalized and/or Black in origin, people have been eager to give their two cents on the phenomenon of appropriation, and whether or not it’s okay for White artists to take Black music and appropriate it to a larger, more-often-than-not (for lack of a better way to put it) Whiter audience. Do you think that it’s okay for individuals who don’t necessarily respect the culture behind the music to attempt to recreate it in a way that’s arguably less authentic?
AP: I don’t think there’s anything we can do as far as people wanting to take certain genres, appropriate and dip into different cultures and maybe be culturally irresponsible. I have a lot of respect for people who pay homage and know the background and history and they acknowledge it, and I think that that music last longer. I think there’s a reason why I have more respect for certain groups who pay homage to what they were doing with music like Blues; I don’t know. I’m more into The Beatles than I am than Elvis, you know? So, what I was trying to do with Cover Art was flip the script on things. I feel like if you have the knowledge of knowing how things came about and you know the history, then you have a responsibility to put it out there and to teach and pass it on and to try to help the higher, you know, help the consciousness, and if you’re ignorant of it that then you should be honest about that and you should be trying to learn more. I think everybody should take steps in being culturally responsible and take steps to dig deep within the history of what they’re doing, and I think that the music will only be better for that and it will help push for something different and not just making a carbon copy of something that’s happened or making a deluded version. I think as time goes it’s probably going to get worse, but I think that there are people who know the history and they have responsibility to enlighten people.
OW: Let’s talk about the album: last week your latest album Venice was released through Steel Wool Entertainment and is currently available on iTunes as well as SoundCloud, along with the album’s promotional single “Drugs,” available on Bandcamp with a music video to go with it. My favorite song on Venice has got to be “Already.” I like it cause it has that sort of G-Funk-type vibe about it. What’s your favorite track off the project and why?
AP: Right now my favorite track is “Luh You.” I like how we got into this kind of, like, House vibe towards the latter of the album, and I think that’s kind of where I want to go in the future. But, yea, I’m a big fan of “Already.” That was one of the songs that captured the vibe and texture that we really wanted and I was happy that we got; like, something that wasn’t too heavy and that you could cruise to and had that Too $hort, Oakland vibe and I was just very happy how that flow came about, just like, getting that texture. Mikos gave me a bunch of beats, and that was the only beat that sounded like that and, right away, I just gravitated towards that beat, so I’m glad that made the cut.
OW: Talk to us a little bit about your musical background. A lot of rappers/artists affiliated with Hip Hop nowadays don’t boast much technical skill when it comes to instruments aside from electronic production and their voices. When did you start drumming, and how has it affected the way you approach making music?
AP: I started drumming when I was twelve-years-old, maybe in sixth grade. I started in a band and then my step-pops bought a drum kit and he knew a few things on the drum-kit and he taught me some pointers and then I kind of just picked it up, and once I learned how to play a little bit, I started playing in church right after, and that was pretty much my first schooling; so, that’s where I got my first formal training.
“Playing in church, I learned how to play a lot of different styles of music, and I got good with reflexes and good intuition, because I had to follow band leaders and think quick. It’s just different innate things that you can’t really teach people you learn while playing in church. I don’t know how else to put it but, just, seeing it before it comes and having that feel and reading the energy is what I learned in church.”
I took a bit of formal lessons when I got to musician’s institute, but knowing how to play an instrument was everything because, I mean, I started out wanting to rap first when I was really young before I got into drums, but once I got into drums I was kind of thrown into this whole musician world. So, that was kind of, like, my scene for a while. I gravitated towards things that were pushing musically, so I was into drumming and a lot of different instrumentalists and hanging with that kind of scene and with different bass and piano players, and that helped with my production and even the way I put together rhymes is very rhythmic and it’s a big part of it and I’m glad I can play an instrumental, and it’s helped a lot with my production. I feel like it’s separated me in my own lane with me playing drums and performing. I don’t have to be dependent on producers. I mean, I love working with producers and instrumentalists, but at the same time, I like not being dependent on others and being able to make it happen myself with the production. It’s a big part of my musicianship. I’m a musician first. I’ve developed the ability to write and sing, but those came after.
OW: Something else I was wondering off the record while listening to your music was what’s up with the whole Breezy Lovejoy moniker. Is that a former stage name?
AP: It is a former name; I started as Breezy Lovejoy. I came to LA, like, in ’07, and I came out here as Breezy Lovejoy. Breezy is a nickname. People still call me breezy. My first name is Brandon, and it’s kind of been there since I was like, you know, ten or eleven. Maybe a year or two ago, I decided to go by Anderson Paak, which is my last name and my middle name. I stopped going by Breezy Lovejoy because I was going through this transition where I had all this different music and I wanted a chance for people to rediscover me. I have a wife and I have a son. I’m 26. I’ll probably be 26 for a long time.
OW: Where do you see Anderson Paak in a few years on some real shit? I know that’s always a mad-loaded question but seriously.
AP: Honestly, when people ask me that, I just want to continue to get better and not be super comfortable and I want to continue to have gratitude and be grateful and humble. I feel like things are going to happen for me, and things are going to be awesome, but I try not to let my expectations supersede my gratification/appreciation. So, I just want to remain humble and remain grateful for the things that I have, and I want to continue to be making music and being better at it. Maybe hopefully I can be helping other people put their music out. Maybe I can receive some stats; some formal awards would be awesome but, yea, continuing to get better I guess.
Anderson .Paak has moved on to much bigger and brighter things such as this following incredible performance on The Late Night Show With Stephen Colbert.