Being Dr Dre’s latest discovery can drive your ambition and Anderson .Paak is no exception. “I wanna do a song with Adele!” he says. “Nobody gets Adele as a feature, so maybe I can. I hope she knows who I am!”
The 30-year-old Californian singer only got his big break last month, signing to Dr Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment (“It’s such a surreal thing”) following the January release of his soul-infused belter of a second album ‘Malibu’. It’s earned acclaim for its rich mix of future-facing R&B and uplifting, narrative-driven hip-hop, marking .Paak out as a remarkable new songwriter who isn’t afraid to write with the mentality of a rapper.
Taking time out from a video shoot – on his birthday, no less – to speak to NME, .Paak recounts the tale of how he and NWA man Dre first hooked up. “I got invited to work on Dre’s ‘Compton’ project,” he says. “Dre was giving out ideas for what he wanted the vibe of [album track] ‘All In A Day’s Work’ to be. I asked if I could get on the mic and started riffing off the top of my head. When I opened my eyes, everyone in the room was just like ‘Wooooh, yeah!’ And, after that, I was always over there.”
.Paak’s talents tend to elicit such a reaction: his recent performance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert was electrifying and his whistle-stop visit to the UK this week with his band The Free Nationals is something you can’t afford to miss – although the London date sold out well in advance. He’s not feeling nervous ahead of it, he says, because “there’s no pressure when they say it’s sold out”. That’s the kind of talk Dre and Adele would be proud of.
ANDERSON .PAAK: THE DETAILS
The Season/ Carry Me is a perfect five-minute capsule of .Paak’s musical versatility and lyrical emotionality
Album ‘Malibu’ is out now on Steel Wool/OBE
Feb 25 XOYO, London
Feb 26 Ruby Lounge, Manchester
Feb 27 ABC2, Glasgow
The full-stop in his name is intentional – .Paak says he uses it as a reminder to pay attention to detail!