The name is Anderson .Paak – don’t forget the dot. It was put there with vehement purpose to remind the masses to pay attention. After a childhood of being written off, neglected, and forgotten, the artist behind the name is making sure his audience remembers every detail.
This task is not as simple as it may seem, extending far beyond punctuation to .Paak’s prismatic music. The seamless mix of funk, psychedelia, rock, gospel, hip-hop, and electro is nearly impossible to pin down, much less pick apart. Herein lies the contradiction in .Paak’s message: that his work is better received holistically rather than by its constituents. However, the true paradox reveals itself in the all-enveloping quality that emerges from his beats. His music both consumes and saturates the soul. It’s uplifting. It’s groovy. It’s unforgettable.
Perhaps the most important aspect of .Paak’s craft is that is comes from a place of purest gratitude. He put it best in an interview with NPR last January: “Thank God for the music, y’know?”
His warm, toothy smile and colorful style would never reveal the true gravity of this statement, but that’s okay, it’s our job anyway. Easy was a foreign concept for .Paak and his family growing up. His mom and uncle were abandoned as infants in Seoul, South Korea and adopted into the United States in the 1950s, getting mislabeled in the process under the last name “Paak” instead of “Park”. She grew up in the middle of Compton, CA, that notorious hub of cultural criminality, before becoming a strawberry farmer in Oxnard up north to raise her son, Brandon Paak Anderson and his little sister. Her influence on .Paak is sung out in his hit “The Season / Carry Me” from his most recent album, Malibu. The chorus of the first movement croons “Strawberry season/My sweetheart has come around”, while the second part echoes “Momma can you carry me?” throughout the background.
.Paak’s mother held down the fort for their family through his father’s problems with substance abuse until he was arrested and imprisoned for fourteen years for assaulting her. .Paak’s infatuation with music took root soon after his dad disappeared from the picture, after his god-sister towed him to her African-American church to see the church band. 11-year-old .Paak was struck by the energy that reverberated around St. Paul’s Baptist Church, and immediately signed on to play drums with them. He literally has God to thank for this pivotal inspiration.
To this day, Anderson .Paak carries the same energy with him, broadcasting it out to the world through his tunes. Even through a short bout of homelessness with his wife and infant daughter in 2011, .Paak maintained the hope and the drive to exude positive vibes. As soon as he got back on his feet, he started appearing everywhere, from original mixtapes to features with Dr. Dre. He just finished up a world tour in September with his band, The Free Nationals, on the back of Malibu. More recently, he was featured on “Dang!”, a buttery smooth track off of Mac Miller’s newest installment, The Divine Feminine, and plans to begin work with Flying Lotus in the months to come. So far, every piece .Paak has touched rings with suave, electric mastery, fulfilling his primary goal of making people “feel good and sexy.” Anderson .Paak is a force to look out for...and don’t forget the dot.
Words: Darby Dayton