Strawberry Season: The Anderson .Paak Wave Continues

A look at the latest loosies from "Compton" breakout star, Anderson .Paak
By    November 11, 2015

andersonpaak

Max Bell once recorded an entire EP of Suga Free covers. 

The Aftermath announcement is inevitable. Unless the unforeseeable happens, the former herb horticulturalist formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy will probably sign with the best rapping and producing tech-billionaire currently working. Maybe it was fate, the divined combination of talent, luck, and timing, that landed him in this coveted and rarefied position. Maybe not. Regardless, Anderson .Paak is on.

We here at Passion of the Weiss (and Jeff in particular) divined the present in words past. Before he outshined every other Compton contributor, the singer/rapper/producer was L.A.’s best-kept secret. He followed an EP full of the most innovative covers in recent memory with 2014’s Venice, the sprawling 16-track album that’s below and still worth sifting through for the jams and gems (e.g. the sybaritic and narcotic YouTube/Soundcloud smash “Drugs”).

Post Dre day, .Paak continues his prolificacy. He also reaffirms the diversity of his talent and taste, both of which continue to make his career fascinating to follow. This year alone he’s appeared on songs with everyone from DJ Premier and Game, to Jonwayne and Busdriver. (The latter is possibly my favorite rap song of 2015.) Right now, few move so seamlessly between indie and major.

The latest .Paak loosies appeared on his Soundcloud earlier this week. The first is the 9th Wonder and Callum Connor produced “The Season/Carry Me”. The front half is a celebration of his newfound success combined with an impassioned refutation of the trappings of fame. Over a beat that courses with the warm crackle of sampled wax and thumps to the bass of modernized boom-bap, .Paak’s slight rasp is equally effective whether he’s rapping or singing. The latter half moves to the clip of crisp percussion, the groove defined by a looped blues guitar riff. It’s a simple sonic formula that .Paak’s pained delivery elevates and rounds out. He’s made all right, but nights spent on the cold floor fearing his wife’s deportation are never forgotten or lamented.

The second single, “Am I Wrong,” features former Hoover Crip turned bucket hat connoisseur, Schoolboy Q. Produced by the Vancouver-based Pomo, the song plays with a muted, funky synth-suite, stripping it down, chopping it up, and adding horns before the finish. It’s sonically safe enough for Morning Becomes Eclectic but it’s the best iteration of all that description suggests. Here, more than anything, .Paak employs his uncanny ability to craft earworm hooks. His delivery is understated but infectious, and he articulates a known but seldom-said dance floor adage. Sadly, Schoolboy Q sounds out of place, his Kit-Kat pun as cringe worthy as his mention of chilling Merlot. However, if you turn off your headphones for thirty seconds, or forget that you’ve heard “Nightmare on Figg St.” or “Break the Bank,” then “Am I Wrong” remains another unimpeachable addition to the .Paak oeuvre.

.Paak’s album with Knxwledge is forthcoming, as is his next solo record. At this point, there’s no telling what either will sound like or who will appear in the liner notes. But, now that his name is everywhere, it’s comforting to know that the co-sign to beat all co-signs hasn’t diminished his drive or his willingness to take risks and tempt fate.

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