Although Anderson .Paak seemingly blew up after his contributions on Dr. Dre’s
Detox Compton album and the release of Malibu a few months later, the Cali-bred musician has been on the grind for years. Even before Venice caught people’s attention in 2014, he was pushing music under the name Breezy Lovejoy.
In short, this is far from overnight success story, but .Paak also realizes his status is much higher with the impending release of his Oxnard album and he’s doing what he can to maintain the same mentality he had when crafting his previous work.
“You’re trying to be the same person, but in a new car,” .Paak told Rolling Stone. “Everything we made for Malibu we made from the dirt. We had the bare minimum. Now, it’s trying to keep that same mentality, but when you have everything. When you’ve been eating calamari and lobster, when you’ve been going to festivals and playing for 40,000 people. You finally have a tour bus. You have two kids now, and a wife to support. You’re trying to keep the same principles you had when you just had a couch.”
To stay grounded, Anderson .Paak is focusing on his hometown and taking it back to an era in rap where artists went big or went home. “When you go everywhere, you just hold on to the things that made you,” he says. “I feel like ambition is missing from today’s music. This is the album I dreamed of making in high school, when I was listening to [Jay-Z’s] The Blueprint, The Game’s The Documentary, and [Kanye West’s] The College Dropout.”
During the interview, which was held on the phone while .Paak was in Italy during a tour, he also spoke on working with Dr. Dre, picking up performance tips from the likes of J. Cole and Beyoncé, his Oxnard album (“the last phase of the beach series”), Madlib, and more.
Check out some choice quotes below and head to Rolling Stone for the entire piece.
On working with Dr. Dre…
“Dr. Dre started the whole DNA. I remember for show-and-tell, people would bring in in a teddy bear or a favorite toy or some shit, but I was learning “Dre Day” and “Nuthin but a G Thang” and I would go in and rap that, just for show-and-tell. Teachers didn’t understand what was going on. His music was everything to me. It molded me. Hip-hop is the biggest genre now, but it’s always been the biggest genre to me. Working for Dr. Dre, I couldn’t even fathom it. It seemed so out of reach.
“It feels great, man. It’s awesome. It’s just special. He’s not gonna just be up there with an MPC making it from scratch. He’s gonna get this person in the room, he’s gonna get that person in the room, and he’s gonna guide the whole session. And then once it leaves his hands, when he puts his name on it, it’s not gonna be like anything else. Every little thing is gonna be perfect.”
On working with (not meeting) Madlib…
“Madlib was great. I’ve still never met him in person. The way I get all my Madlib beats is through another rapper from Oxnard, and he’s kind of, like, my liaison. He sent me this one, the one that I’ve got on the album, it didn’t even sound… Like, I could tell it was Madlib from the jump, but it sounded different from what I was used to. And Madlib, he’ll send the beat, right? And usually, if you get the beat, that’s it. You’re not gonna get the different stems, so you don’t have the opportunity to switch around their sound or whatever. So, that was one of the instances where we just had the beat, and then when it came time to mix, Dre was like, ‘Yo we need the stems.’ Cause Dre’s mixing the whole album. And I was like, ‘Fuck, man, we couldn’t get the stems from Madlib.’ We told him we would have to re-do the whole track. The next day, we got the stems.”
Will Oxnard be his superstar moment?
“I just think it’s gonna be the next album, you know? If you’re only as good as your last album. I put everything into this man. My wife fucking hates me, I’m not even getting to see my kids all the time because I’m in the studio all the time. This is it. This is everything I have.”