© 2024
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Anderson .Paak: 'The Dot Stands For Detail'

"I was just in love with the energy," Anderson .Paak says of attending a black Baptist church for the first time.
Courtesy of the artist
"I was just in love with the energy," Anderson .Paak says of attending a black Baptist church for the first time.

For more than a decade, Anderson .Paak has been developing a kaleidoscopic mix of '60s funk, '70s soul, hip-hop, R&B, electronic music, and rock 'n' roll. When he appeared on Dr. Dre's surprise 2015 album Compton,.Paak's profile skyrocketed — and, some say, stole the show.

Anderson .Paak recently spoke with NPR's Scott Simon about his new album Malibu, attending a black Baptist church for the first time as a child, and how he works things out in his music.

Why is it important that your last name is written ".Paak?"

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. And on top of that, I want to make sure that dot is always there to remind me and to remind others.

We mentioned that you worked with Dr. Dre and you were featured as a rapper on six of the tracks on the album released last summer. What was it like to watch him at work? Because you're also a producer. What did you see? What did you learn?

The first thing that I noticed is that he definitely mans the ship, and he's the captain when he's in the production chair. But he's definitely open to our ideas and interested in finding something. He's not set on just having it his way.

I was just kind of amazed that someone of his stature and success level is still really, really into the music. He had this excitement to him. It seemed like it was new to him, or at least when I came in. There was this vibe where he felt like he was so excited of what was to come and the things we were about to make. And you want to spend hours finding the right phrase and finding the right sounds. It was just inspiring to see that.

You started drumming in church?

Yeah, I started playing drums in church in Oxnard, a church called St. Paul's Baptist Church. My godsister invited me to church when I was about 11 years old after I had learned to play a couple beats. She was like, "You should come to the church. You gotta see the choir and you gotta see the church band." I went, and I saw the choir and the church band and I was hooked. I'd never seen any kind of playing — I'd never been in a black Baptist church before that. I was just in love with the energy.

Well, explain: You're from a mixed ethnic background, too.

Yeah, 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.

Farmers, right?

Yeah. 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. He ended up getting really addicted to drugs and alcohol. Up until that point, he was doing really good — the drugs got a hold of him. He went to prison for about 14 years for assault.

My pops ended up joining the military really, really early. Eventually, he was dishonorably discharged because of weed, I think. My mom tells me that when he got discharged, he went into a depression after that, because he really liked being in the service. After that, just a downhill spiral. Pretty rough, bro.

Pretty rough. It's almost a shame to talk about music now, but I also think your music is wound up with that.

Yeah, yeah, that's the light, you know? Thank God for the music, you know?

Do you work things out in the music?

Yeah, I do, and try not to have too much compromise or try not to get too heady with it. I just try to express the art and work to get better, to learn more, and get sharper and inspire and put things out that people are going to feel good about — feel good and sexy, and the things I feel when I'm making it.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.