Anderson .Paak is one of the most dynamic artists around. His fusion of R&B, soul, funk, hip-hop and everything in between has seen him create an utterly delectable canon of music since his debut album landed in 2014. The characteristic makes Anderson. Paak seemingly stand alone in his eclectic nature. He’s a character that remains impossible to pin down — which is likely to have something to do with his varied musical upbringing, including artists like Tupac Shakur and The Beatles.
Paak first started his musical journey as a teenager when he began spending his free time producing music in his bedroom, and it didn’t take him long to realise that this expression was his destiny. The first time he got the thrill of performing live came when he started drumming at the church his family would regularly attend. In 2011, when his career as a musician was yet to take off, he worked on a marijuana farm but had his role terminated, a decision which temporarily left him, his wife and their infant son homeless.
However, things soon turned around, and a few months later, Paal became a crucial figure in the Los Angeles scene as word got around about the music he was creating. Shafiq Husayn of Sa-Ra, and Los Angeles based rapper Dumbfoundead, helped Paak get back on his feet and gave him a creative job as an assistant, videographer, editor, writer and producer. He released his debut mixtape, O.B.E. Vol. 1, on June 30, 2012, and his career has continued to ascend since.
His debut album, Venice, was released in October 2014 and although it didn’t chart, it started the journey that has seen him grow to become one of the most respected names in music today. A few months before his debut release, Paak sat down with DJ Booth to discuss his fifteen favourite songs, a collection which offers a fascinating insight into his wide-ranging influences.
One pick was The Beatles’ iconic hit ‘In My Life’, of which Paak commented: “I love this group. Like I know they doing soul music and blues and they white boys from the UK and all that, but damn, I fucking love this group. I don’t give a fuck man; they was on some other shit. This was the first song I heard of theirs. It was during my senior year of high school and this joint hit me like a ton if bricks. This white boy was like, ‘you never heard this before?’ ‘Hell nah!’ My mom didn’t listen to the fucking Beatles! She thought that shit was corny.”
He continued: “Too much was going on in my life and a lot of those lyrics spoke to me even at a young age of 17; timeless music no matter what era it’s made in. If it can still hit you like a ton of bricks upside your fucking head then it’s special and powerful. Shit hurts in a good way.”
Another English group tp feature on Paak’s list is Radiohead with ‘Paranoid Android’, of which the singer-songwriter said: “I remember watching the animated video for this song with my little sis. We would almost be driven to tears on the outro vamp; so haunting and deep. We loved when MTV would play that video, we would stop everything we were doing and watch that long ass video.”
Meanwhile, Tupac Shakur’s ‘Keep Your Head Up’ is a track that means more to Paak than most: “We (me and my 16-year-old buddy) were obsessed with 2pac and all the drama that was perpetuated by the media, we totally bought into it. At the age of 11, young and impressionable, 2pac was our leader. We knew every word and ad-lib; there was no one better to listen to. He was like your favourite WWF wrestler.
“There was so much clarity and passion when he spoke, and his beat selection was fuckin nuts! Think about how many of his old songs actually still sound good and not super dated with corny sounds that were popular for that time. His music had live instrumentation. When he wanted to be positive and deep, no one was better, when he wanted to be a mindless thug, no one was better,” Paak added.
Another hip-hop icon which makes his exclusive list is J. Dilla, with his track, ‘Like This’: “I feel like JD must of been having a creative breakthrough when he made this,” Paak commented. “It’s so far from what he is known for, but so very close. It’s rock, it’s hip-hop it’s soul, it’s electronic, trippy, and spiritual. This OK to play at my funeral too…maybe as people are gathering.”
Check out the full list, below.
Anderson .Paak’s favourite songs of all time:
- Tupac — ‘Keep Your Head Up’
- Maze — ‘Happy Feelings’ ft. Franky Beverly
- Sa-Ra — ‘The Bone Song’
- Aretha Franklin — ‘I Say A Little Prayer’
- Radiohead — ‘Paranoid Android’
- Stevie Wonder — ‘Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)’
- Thundercat — ‘Is It Love’
- Clipse — ‘I’m Not You’
- Kanye West — ‘We Major’ ft. Nas & Really Doe
- Jay-Z — ‘Brooklyn’s Finest’ ft. Notorious B.I.G
- D’Angelo — ‘Africa’
- J. Dilla — ‘Like This’
- Bilal — ‘Sometimes’
- The Beatles — ‘In My Life’
- Jay Electronica — ‘Better in Tune With the Infinite’