As the “dot” in his name reminds us, multidisciplinary musician Anderson .Paak is all about the details. So it should be no surprise really, that his fifth album Oxnard (out now) is a patchwork, panoramic offering that features a little bit of everything. From a first-class cast (Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Pusha T to name a few) guest-starring on his tracks, to a nod to multiple genres, mediums and sounds (“Trippy” starts off with an old-school radio show and laugh track), it’s clear that Paak’s focus group is the world.
In the spirit of pausing and paying homage to Paak’s aptly-placed punctuation mark, we were able to get the multi-instrumentalist and genre-blending rhythmic linguist to take a minute to chat with us on a moderately comfortable chair in our New York City office. While positioned snugly between two ferns, a Bonsai tree and a few disco balls, Paak took us through things as random as his surroundings – and some not – from his first experience with SoundCloud to the secret sauce that goes into keeping a band together.
Paak was first introduced to SoundCloud when working on his debut mixtape O.B.E. Vol. 1. He said, “I remember just staying up all night just trying to upload music and making sure it was right, and f-ing up and not doing it right like five different times – and all this pressure to get this mixtape out.” Paak’s willingness to be messy, to power through the hours, to experiment with concepts and to sing/rap/drum/produce himself, are key details that have led to his broader success. That, and an appreciation for the people he works with. What makes his band stay together? He notes that communication, loyalty and time spent with each other (outside of the music-making) are the driving factors.
As a multi-instrumentalist who smoothes the edges of hip-hop, R&B, funk and jazz into a collaged and cohesive whole, it’s no wonder that his latest album Oxnard does so much. The first track “The Chase (ft. Kadhja Bonet)” is a chest-pounding parade of an entrance that shows off his ability to melt concepts; a staticy car stereo blends into spell-casting vocals that are both intros for the main event: a highfalutin flute-fronted funk anthem. “Who R U” is a staccato banger that you can’t listen to just once, and “6 Summers” is a retro, politically-lite, reggae-laced rock ballad that could sit moderately comfortable on a stage from decades ago.
If you’d already devoured Paak’s latest (we have) and want to dive into who he’s listening to, check out: Tierra Whack, Kadhja Bonet, Nick Hakim, Daniel Caesar and Smino. And if you’re looking to get in his good graces? Pick up an instrument and prove that you’ll do the work.
Because Paak is proof that just doing the work it is always enough – and oftentimes it’s more.