STATUS Magazine cover story, December 2018
Switching gears between drumming, rapping, and proudly singing a loud “Yes Lawd!” for his latest album Oxnard, ANDERSON .PAAK is elevating what it means to be a versatile artist while keeping that cheeky smile on his face.
Spreading his effortlessly infectious rhythm behind tinted windows, Anderson .Paak remains in the driver’s seat at maximum speed. Pressing one foot on the gas and the legendary Dr. Dre riding shotgun, it’s all systems go for his third studio album Oxnard. His silky signature fusion of hip-hop, funk, and ‘90s synths pays homage to his hometown of Oxnard, California with influential guests such as Pusha T, A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, Kendrick Lamar, and Snoop Dogg hopping in the back seat. “Oxnard is about being the same man in a new car,” the polymath says of his new record. “[It’s] keeping the same principles but having evolved.”
Marking the third and final installment in his “beach series” after 2014’s Venice and 2016’s Malibu, Anderson .Paak revs his engine on Oxnard and shows off his smooth ladies’ man persona with the help of N.W.A’s Dr. Dre who also served as the album’s executive producer. Co-piloting his most ambitious album up to date alongside one of the industry’s most notable and respected producers created morals that have stuck with him for life. “The bigger lesson that I learned from Dr. Dre is to not do anything that you don’t feel or that doesn’t feel right to you,” he recalls of his time with the Aftermath Entertainment founder.
Pulling up for a quick chat about one of 2018’s most anticipated albums, Anderson .Paak rounds up Oxnard with a message of hope to his hometown, “I want everybody in Oxnard to be proud of our city and to walk away with a feeling of pride.”
First of all, congratulations on the new record! You mentioned that Oxnard is the album you’ve dreamt of making since you were in high school. How does it feel to finally have that dream materialize?
It always feels great when you accomplish something. This is definitely one of the greatest accomplishments of my life thus far.
Are there any new production techniques or instruments you introduced to this album?
I started a lot of the records around my drums. Working neck and neck with Dre on a lot of the production and allowing the Free Nationals to bring in their own production without me guiding them from jump. I was working in my studio for most of it and at Dre’s studio which was a whole new experience for me.
Being the third and final installment in your beach-inspired project, did you go through a different process in order to elevate it from Venice and Malibu?
My process is always evolving. As I grow and evolve as a musician, so does my music, so it’s hard to pinpoint since it’s an organic process.
“Tints” marks the third time you’ve worked with Kendrick Lamar. How did the two of you get together for this track?
I sent the song to Kendrick almost a year before he ever came back with anything. In fact, it was one of the first songs that I started working on for this album. A lot of time had passed and one day, I looked down at my phone and I had a message from Kendrick—it was his verse for the song.
At which point in your career did you realize that you need tints on your car?
As soon as I got my new car, it was the first thing people started saying to me.
Oxnard is about keeping the same mentality as prior to having everything at the tip of your fingers. What keeps you grounded after all the fame and fortune you’ve received in the last two years?
My family is the main thing that keeps me grounded.
In your Beats 1 interview, you noted that you’ve never worked with Kendrick one-on-one and that all your collaborations have been created through the internet. Using the web as a tool to create songs and freely upload them on platforms like YouTube or SoundCloud, do you think this type of power is more harmful or helpful to music and its artists?
The internet is an extremely helpful tool to music and artists. It allows people who would not normally be able to connect creatively because of distance to create together. The internet also makes art more accessible to the masses. If there are any cons, it would be oversaturation and lack of quality control.
From your rough upbringing to becoming a two-time Grammy-nominated artist, what would you say is the one thing about you that hasn’t changed?
I’m still smiling.
Looking back on your journey now—the growth from Breezy Lovejoy to Anderson .Paak and getting signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath—what do you believe were the aspects in your life that successfully made you one of the most respected and versatile musicians in the 21st century?
I have a commitment to being authentic at all times. The honesty in my creative process is the most important thing to me. Quality over quantity is one of the things that separates me from other artists and will continue to do so.
Amidst all the struggle, what’s the one piece of advice you can give to keeping your head above water?
Don’t ever do anything that you don’t want to do or that doesn’t feel right. Be true to yourself and your instincts.
Written by Sophie Caraan
Photos courtesy of Warner Music PH