I’m at my best when I’m talking about relationships, talking about women, talking about situations and stories.
I think there’s a void for some authentic soul music with an edge. I think there’s some people who grew up with Motown and Stevie Wonder that still can appreciate Future, Drake, and all these different things, too, but there shouldn’t be a void for those people, as well.
I used to work with mentally disabled people when I was 18 or 19, changing diapers and catheters. I was working, like, 16 hour night shifts, having to distribute meds and go capture people who would break out of the house. Sometimes they’d have seizures, and we’d have to rush them to the hospital. That was an interesting time, very humbling.
My mom had a produce business in in Oxnard, and we used to take these long trips to talk to farmers and different distributors. She’d take us with her after picking us up from school, and she’d be blasting all this old soul music and R&B. I knew all those O’Jays songs before I knew Snoop or Dre or Tupac.
I didn’t start playing drums until I was 12, for school band; they didn’t have any saxophones left. My step-pops had a kit at the house, and I had never done anything that I understood so quick. It was so natural. It was the most fun and consistent thing in my life.
My wife was born in Korea, and we met in music college; she was there for vocal, and I was there for drums.
The dot stands for ‘detail’ – always be paying attention to detail. I feel that people take you as serious as you take yourself. I spent a lot of time working on my craft, developing my style, and after I came out of my little incubation, I promised that I would pay attention to detail.
My mom was born in Korea – Seoul, Korea, during the ’50s, ’51. She was abandoned; her and my uncle were abandoned. My grandfather was a Seabee and adopted my mom and my uncle, and brought them to Compton in the ’50s. That’s where she was raised.
My mom eventually got out to Oxnard and started a produce company and was in the strawberry business. My pops was out of the picture by the time I was 7.
I didn’t always take myself that seriously. Image-wise, I was somewhat of a jokester.
If you grow up playing in church, it removes a lot of the boundaries that other musicians might have, growing up with sheet music or whatever.
Life got very good – we went from living in a one-bedroom apartment to a five-bedroom mansion by the time I was in high school. I had everything I wanted growing up, though all I wanted was music stuff – drums, a PC, turntables.
I grew up in Oxnard, CA, and I went to a church called St. Paul, where I was playing drums. My mom had a strawberry company. The whole town of Oxnard is basically built on produce, and more particularly, strawberries.
I had a project called ‘Cover Art,’ which was the first project I did under the new name Anderson .Paak. I went through this process where I was recording new music for about six months straight.
I tell people a lot of times, if you want to be a part of something, you never know, you kind of just have to be around. A lot of people don’t really have the patience for it, and they don’t stick around. Dre and I are still working together, and we have plenty of music for the future.
Growing up in a house where there was a lot of different musical influences – my mom listens to soul stuff and Top 40, my sisters would listen to hip-hop – and the church, I grew up listening to a lot of gospel stuff. So I think that plays a role in how I make music now because my music has a lot of range. I don’t just do one thing.
If you’re doing black music, you should have a core understanding of where that comes from, and the fundamentals – so you’re not some bozo thinking you’re doing something new.
There’s quite a few artists that didn’t pop off until they were a little older – Rick James being one.
As an artist, you’re taking your experiences and placing them into your art. So the more experiences you have, the richer your art and more people can relate to it.
I don’t know many artists who’ve come out of Beverly Hills, y’know? You need that struggle.
My story as an artist has been about trial and error. It’s been about artist development, character building, struggle, happiness and failure, family, and music.
A lot of Knxwledge’s instrumentals just brought out this tone and swagger that I had played with before but had never really pinpointed before on my Anderson .Paak stuff. But then it just came so easily.
I don’t think there’s anybody that has such a keen sense of vocal production and attention to detail as Dre.
Nothing I do is ever void of melody. I know it might seem like I’m doing a lot of rapping, but I’m always utilizing tone and trying to find a key signature. So, I don’t look at myself as a rapper.
When the pastor’s up there, they do this thing called looping. They are literally riffing and spitting in the key of the organ. When looping, you’re in key, you’re in a rhythm, you’re in a pocket, and that’s where James Brown was pulling from, and so that’s where I’m pulling from. The only difference is I’m coming at it under hip-hop.
I learned a lot from working with and watching Knxwledge, seeing how he produces non-stop. He doesn’t dwell too long on stuff. He’s very simple, using only about two or three elements. I like that in production. Sometimes it doesn’t take more than three drums, a melody, the vocal, looping a sample or whatever, just as minimal as possible.
I’m part of the generation that grew up with great rappers like 2Pac and Biggie and people like Amy Winehouse. We’ve seen a lot of different artists come and go. Even people who are still here, they seem consumed and blinded by fame. It may not have taken them out physically, but they have been taken out.
I put a list together. It was like: Get health insurance, get a car, get a bigger apartment, travel more, get a record deal, get a publishing deal, sell 10,000 units, be a part of a No. 1 album, make a million dollars. I got to check off 90 percent of the stuff last year. I hit some serious landmarks in 2015.
I wanna do a song with Adele! Nobody gets Adele as a feature, so maybe I can. I hope she knows who I am!
I got invited to work on Dre’s ‘Compton’ project.
A lot of people who work with Dre, you’re lucky if anything sees the light of day.
I’d been watching documentaries about early rock where white artists took ‘race records’ from blues and soul musicians to achieve mass appeal. I wanted to flip that and do an EP covering only white artists.
I just want people to be affected by the music. I’m really affected by my surroundings and put everything in my music – what I’m not getting and what I desire. I want it to be uncompromised… almost a spiritual thing.
It would feel like a smack in the face to sign with any label outside of Dre’s. He took a risk on me, and that means everything.
Drumming is a real part of my live show, and I like to do it because so many people aren’t expecting me to go and do it.
Not everything is going to be handed to you just because you’re talented with a big smile. Sometimes you just gotta get out and shoot jumpers for hours and hours and hours. That’s something I didn’t really get a grasp on until way later, waking up early and treating it like a job if you’re serious about it. Get the freak up and, you know, work.