Before 2015 wrapped up we sat down with Anderson .Paak to discuss his upcoming release Malibu, catch our conversation below!
RESPECT.: Your album, Malibu, has such a smooth, soulful jazzy vibe to it, where did you pull your inspiration from?
Anderson .Paak: I think the inspiration is always coming from the same thing for me, it’s like experiences, movies, books. But I think the reaction towards where I just got out of, Venice was more of a modern sound, and I feel like this was a natural progression for me. Where I wanted to go with Malibu I wanted it to be a bright contrast from the last album, and this felt like more of a natural progression for me.
RESPECT.: Was the process of putting Malibu together more difficult? Or did you find it easier since it wasn’t your first go around?
In some ways it might’ve been a little difficult, but in some ways I had a lot of help. The process was cool because I had just came out of these musical camps, on one hand some of the songs are almost three years old that I’ve been working on and fine tuning, and I had a batch of songs that I had been saving for Malibu. But then I had all these cool experiences happen like working with Dr. Dre, and working with Game, ScHoolboy Q and dealing with different producers like Mike Wonder. I got to take a lot from those processes and take them into Malibu. So it made it a little easier to find my groove and tone that I wanted for this album.
RESPECT.: You have a number of collaborations on Malibu. How did you decide who you wanted on this album?
I’m the type to always just like record record record, get a bunch of tunes, and then I just figure out the cream. As I go over my tunes, I start solidifying what the album’s gonna be, then it’s easier and whatever sticks, sticks. But I got to work with a lot of producers that I’ve always wanted to work with, since growing up in high school and stuff. People like 9th Wonder, Madlib, Hitech, and Kaytranada. These are people that, some of them I reached out to, some of them reached out to me, and it was just perfect timing. They had been hearing stuff I was doing and it was just the right time that they wanted to work with me, and I had been wanting to work with some of these people. But that doesn’t always mean that you’ll get a song that sticks, but in this case it ended up working out. By the time I hooked up with some of these collaborators I knew exactly what I wanted for Malibu, it made it that much that easier.
RESPECT.: Can you tell me a bit about the production on Malibu?
Well there’s a good amount that’s produced by myself and my band the Free Nationals, and I feel like there a few songs that are like the core songs on Malibu, and the rest are kind of built around those songs. I’m venturing a lot with simplicity and space, and a lot more Blues, Soul, Alternative Rock elements on this one. And there’s a lot more space for my vocals I feel like, as opposed to my other recordings. I think that space would describes it best as far as the production style. I’m getting a chance to for sure collaborate with a lot of different producers on this one. I think this is a more cohesive album, yet it’s still adventurous, we’re still venturing off into different worlds within R&B, Jazz, Soul, Hip-Hop and all that good stuff.
RESPECT.: What motivated you to use sounds like Jazz and Rock within your production to create Malibu?
It’s part of my foundation. It’s the stuff I love. I grew up in the church playing Gospel music, it goes from there. I think you can’t be into Hip-Hop and R&B without dipping into some Jazz and Blues and different things like that and I think this album is just exploring the roots of what I’ve always loved and it coming full circle. I think what also motivates it is that there’s a huge void. There used to be a time where you could hear different stuff in different regions. You had the West Coast sound, East Coast, North, and South. But now everyone sounds like they’re from the same region, everyone sounds like they’re out the same bando. I’m also drawn to do something different, and that’s what Malibu is, it’s filling a void that needs to be filled. That’s what motivates me, I want to do something that ain’t being done.
RESPECT.: What do you think your fans will get from this new album?
What I hope that they’ll get is inspiration. I hope it gives them life and inspiration. I hope that they feel cool when they listen to this, I hope they feel sexy. I think old fans will be pleased to hear a little bit more of the roots of where I started from my Breezy Lovejoy days, and I think new fans will be pleased because it’s right in line with what’s going on with me. Off of Compton and Documentary, these different projects and collaborations I’ve been doing it’s right in line, I think it’s the maturation of where I’m going. Like I said, what I what I put into it is a lot of hard work and a lot of honesty, what I want people to take from it is to be inspired.
RESPECT.: Your sound is very unique and it’s been quite some time since any artist has released a project like Malibu, how does it feel to be starting in a new level of music?
It feels good, it feels good to be able to create something and express. Music is very revealing, and you’re exposing yourself to the world, these personal thoughts and these different things, these ideas. It feels amazing for the reception to be positive, for people to be talking about it and people to be excited. And it feels great for a project to be anticipated. It’s feels really good knowing that it’s something that’s just me, and it’s doing what I want to do. It’s not catering to some kind of trend, it’s not made up of some facade, something that’s not me. It’s just something I’ve been building and having to work on, since I started, and it’s all been trial and error. And it’s cool to be at this point and having something that’s anticipated because for a while that wasn’t the case, quite the exact opposite. It feels amazing, I just feel like hard work pays off, and I feel like it’s just proof of that.
RESPECT.: I’ve asked you a lot of questions about Malibu and I’m going to veer off for a second and ask you about your collaborative EP with the Blended Babies. One of my favorite songs right now is “Make It Work.” How did that collaboration come about? And what’s your favorite song on the EP?
Yeah probably “Make It Work,” I like “Soul Flow” too. I mean I like all the songs on that one. That’s an interesting EP because it came together over a half of a month. But I was just always going over there and hanging out with Rich and JP, and the vibe that they had over there just ushered in a vibe that just came naturally. I felt comfortable over there making music. I was working on Venice, simultaneously when I was working with them. It was like a breath of fresh air to work with that production duo because it was very bluesy and very soulful, and that as well helped me transition into Malibu as well because that was just something I was looking for at the time.
“Make It Work” was just one of my favorite beats that they had played for me. And I remember I went in and did scratch vocal of my verse and even the chorus, and a lot of the words were just gibberish, there wasn’t any words.I think we got the chorus, “I want to make it work,” I think that’s the most solid part of what we had. But I had all the cadence and everything that I wanted, we rocked with that scratch vocal forever. When it came to actually trying to put lyrics it was so tough because we had rocked that demo forever. I remember I think we were just like “Maybe we just have it be gibberish or something.”
I was like I want to put lyrics but I don’t want to take away from this original vibe that we had. I eventually got around to putting some lyrics together to it. Making that song was a whole process, and I think Asher happened to be over there and he just heard it, and they were like “that’s Anderson’s song,” and he was like “I don’t care I got to put a verse on that.” He dropped his verse, then I heard it and I loved it. I think after I heard his verse is when I actually started putting lyrics together to my gibberish. And they ended up getting Donnie Trumpet on there, every time I came over there it was taking on a new form–it was becoming a beast.
I had a bunch of songs that I did with them and that was probably the strongest, and we kind of built the EP around the song.
RESPECT.: Before you mentioned that you were working Venice simultaneously. Your 2014 project is titled, Venice, and your next one is titled, Malibu–Why the beachy titles?
It helps me to compartmentalize things. I had a vision for what I wanted to do with these two projects. And I remember a lot of people were telling me, “You can’t do a bunch of different music, you gotta kinda figure out what you want to do. You can’t be doing the Trap, and doing the Hip-Hop Soul, and the Soul and all of these different things. I remember thinking like this is who I am, this is naturally what I want to do. I’m not trying to do anything, I’m doing it. And I felt like the people I was meeting, the generation that was coming about were people that are like a playlist generation. Less and less people are becoming people that are people that go out and buy CDs, but there’s people that have their iTunes or whatever, their catalogue of music; it’s expansive, it’s different, it’s broad. There’s people that listen to Fetty Wap, then they listen to The Beatles, then they listen to James Brown, then they listen to Jay Z. That’s how I am, and I feel like that’s the piece of the fan base I’m trying to cater towards, people that are not afraid of range and dynamic. So to help people understand this idea I split it up into locations.
With Venice there’s a very broad street full of range and dynamic, and there’s different places you can go, but it’s usually kind of always the same, it’s very gritty, it’s very urban. Even when you get to the beach and the waters, so with Venice that was the idea behind that. We’re going to work with everything and we’re really gonna do it. So we got the hard Trap, we got House, we got Electro, we got R&B, we got acoustic vibes, we got hip-hop. And we did all those things on there. And the tie, the cohesiveness, the thing that threaded it altogether, was the vocals.With Malibu, the reason why I held some some songs Because I felt like after we got to Venice we are going to a destination so from Venice now we go to Malibu. Malibu should be the maturation of what we were doing on Venice.We’re still playing around with different ideas and being adventurous, but it’s even more of a cohesive thing to what we’re doing, and there’s more of the maturation to what we’re doing. With Malibu it’s like you’ve gotten to a little higher place.
I had no clue that I would be working with people like Dr. Dre and 9th Wonder and all these legendary producers that I’ve been wanting to work with. But I did know that Malibu was going to be the maturation of what I was doing in Venice, and it should be a step up. I definitely saw that vision for it. I think everything played its part, the universe was all working together because even the production and everything I feel like it’s a step up, lyrically and everything. The sounds they’ve become a little more streamlined even my vocal tones.
I knew I wanted that by the time I got to Malibu that’s what I wanted and that’s what we have with this project. That’s why we did the location thing and the beach thing to help with that idea, that you can play with range and dynamic, and I wanted the beach theme to help you guys be able to digest that idea. Because I know there’s a lot of music right now that’s all the same pocket, and and I know it can be hard when you hear different things even if it’s fundamental, like a lot of the stuff we’re doing is fundamental. R&B, Jazz, Blues stuff, which is foundational stuff, but it could be hard for people to do digest that nowadays because stuff is so synthetic and so much stuff that sounds the same.
Malibu should be a breath of fresh air, Like you just stepped your feet in the sand and you’re feeling that breeze, like being swamped in the city all your life, and you just step in the sand. You might even be a beach person, but you damn sure can appreciate that shit.
RESPECT.: You were featured on Dre’s Compton and The Game’s The Documentary 2–How was it like working with both of those artists? What did you learn from them in studio sessions?
It was great working with both of them. Dre is a perfectionist, and he just wants to get that perfect take, and you know he’s never satisfied. I caught those vibes from working with him. I don’t know that many people that have been able to work with him at this point of his career where he’s just ready to go, he’s so amped. I could speak for myself whenever I worked with him a lot of the times the stuff that we’ve made comes out the next week on his radio show or whatever. And then working on Compton, I worked on that stuff with him for a handful of months and then that stuff was put out. And I know there’s a lot of people that worked with him that can’t say the same story. It’s amazing the amount of trust that he has in me, it has done a lot for my confidence as an artist.
The fine tuning and attention to detail is really what I take from him. It’s so early in our working relationship and I know I’m going to learn a lot more, but it’s the attention detail that I’ve learned so far. Always putting 100 into every take, and trying to find that perfect take. There’s been times I’ve worked with him and we couldn’t finish the song because going in for hours and having no voice left, but by the end of the song it’s like damn I’ve never sounded that good. I’ve never worked with a producer that was as good as him to get those kind of takes out of me.
And to then to turn around and and then going into work with The Game for a few weeks. It was crazy cause he’s worked with Dre extensively. They’ve worked on other people’s projects Eminem and 50 Cent’s projects. They’ve been through that boot camp.
And he was telling me that once he was out of that boot camp and when it was time for him to make the first documentary, his boots were already laced.He knew what that Dre sound was and he knew what he needed to do. A lot of it he went in by himself and did, and then brought it to Dre after and then Dre did the fine-tuning. He already kind of got the tools that he needed from working on all those different projects with Dre and being like his understudy.
So it was great to work with Dre’s under study and one of his first protégées on his record. And to see that the same habits he built with Dre he still has, going in the studio and really just being like an assassin. I think that’s what happens when you really work with Dre, you just become like a monster in the studio. The Game and Dre didn’t take a lot of time to make the songs or anything like that, they get the idea and they delve into that and they execute, and that’s what I’ve taken from working with both of them is execution is key. Because both those dudes don’t have a lot of patience for sitting around or moping around and smoking, drinking, bulls**ting it’s like are we sticking this or not? Is this the song or not? Execution is key with them you don’t have a lot of time to f**k around.
That’s what I’ve learned for sure, and that’s the mode that I’ve been in. And it helped a lot with going in Malibu and finishing up Malibu and rounding out the sound that I wanted.
RESPECT.: The work ethic that you just described is not only needed in the studio but when you’re on tour as well.You are gearing up to go on tour overseas, what do you want your international fans to get from the your tour or from the music overall?
International, it’s always love. I feel like their appreciation for the music and for the foundational elements are some of the highest. I always love the story of how Jimi Hendrix went overseas first in order to really pop off and then came back to the states. We’ve always gotten a lot of love overseas and they’ve been showing a lot of support to the singles and everything. I’ve been out there a couple times, and it’s the first time I get to go with my band. I’m real excited about that, I’m hoping for the same experience as Jimi Hendrix had. I’m excited to be out there and do more shows out there.
RESPECT.: Since you mentioned Jimi Hendrix are there any artists you look up to or would like to work with?
I look up to a lot of the trendsetters and the people that came in doing it their way. Jimi Hendrix, Kanye, Pharrell, Myles Davis, James Brown, The Beatles, D’angelo. There’s still a lot of people I want to work with. I want to work with Pharrell, The Neptunes; I would love to kick it with D’angelo, Kanye, The Roots, Questlove. There’s a lot of people that I got to work with this year, my dreams kind of came true and I’m getting to work with them more. It’s going to be amazing to really sit for a couple months and work with Dre in the future, and really build on a project. I’m just excited, I’m getting to work with a lot of people that I’ve always wanted to work with, they’re right around me. My bandmates, other producers on Malibu. And a lot of new people that I don’t even know about, I’m excited about working with them.
RESPECT.: You have had a long journey in a very short time period–Working at marijuana farm to becoming homeless with your family by your side to becoming Shafiq’s assistant to becoming Haley’s drummer and now focusing on your own music–How has your music changed as these events in your life took place?
I feel like all the things you mentioned just create character and they help build you as a person and it’s your journey that dips into journey. What I’ve learned too is in this industry, you can be talented, and even have really good songs, but if you’re an a**hole and a s**thead there’s going to be less and less people that fuck with you. And a lot of times you’re gonna burn yourself out and kill yourself out here.
What’s that line, “I was gonna kill a couple rappers but they did it to themselves.” When people start shitting on the people that have been around them and supported them. And they start flipping off the people that really helped them get to where they’re at. I think those are the people that launched into the stratosphere of fame and everything a little too soon.
And that wasn’t my case, it’s been a slow bubble. And I feel like all things you mentioned helped me really appreciate my team and the people around me. I feel like having that groundedness and that foundation helps with the music, and keeps me in a state where I’m always learning, and I always want to get better. I want to progress as an artist and a writer. I know I ain’t worth s**t, and there’s people that can really serve me out here. I want to be around them, and I want them to hear me and I want to get better.
That’s what it’s been, every year it’s gotten better. That’s what I want to continue to do. Five years from now I just want to be able to get better and be able to be inspired. I’m proud of all those things that I’ve been through, they help feed the beast.
RESPECT.: How does your family feel about your musical success?
Very supportive, very proud. They love it. My family works their asses of 9 to 5, a lot of my family is also musically talented. My sister sings and we all can carry a tune. I think when they see me, they see how brave it was for me to chase my dreams. They know that it’s been more years of struggle than success. To see things actually be in a good state and to see progression in my artistry, they don’t do drugs or anything but it’s like the equivalent of being high when they see these things. They love it. At all the family functions, they go ham. They love hearing about all the news and these different things, it’s like a completely different world than what they’re used to. I think it’s like an escape for them to hear these stories and to see things I’m doing. And they get so excited about me being able to travel. They love it.
RESPECT.: We know you have the upcoming album & tour but what is next for you after that? More production? Vacation? More Music?
I’m working hard so I can take the vacation that I want to take. Honestly I just take it one day at a time. I don’t feel comfortable when I’m not recording and writing, that’s all I could really say. I’ll definitely be in the studio somewhere recording and making some music. I feel like I’m chasing my next great so I just always want to be in that mode and I take a break to appreciate my family. Be around my son, my wife. Appreciate those things and then I’m right back at it. Just one day at a time. I don’t know about what’s next, I try to focus what’s now. We’re prepping for my best work to date.
RESPECT.: What does RESPECT mean to you?
Respect is everything. I feel like it was a huge part of why I was into rapping and doing music. Coming up I wanted the respect of my peers, I wanted the respect of my cousin. I wanted them to say what you made was dope. That was everything, it meant more than money or anything like that to have people really vibe to your stuff and feel like what you put out was dope to them. The people that I looked up to I wanted them to really fuck with my music. That’s all that really mattered to me growing up.
When I was playing drums I wanted to get the respect of other drummers. When I was making beats I wanted to the respect of the rappers and producers that I looked up to and I wanted them to really fuck with it. I wanted to be mentioned in the same vain as my musical heroes. Honestly respect is everything that’s it. It’s better than being liked or being popular. You can go anywhere when you have respect. You can go to the hood, you go to the penthouse, you can go anywhere when you have that respect. You might not make the same music as Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber and these people, but when you walk into that room they’re going to respect you because they know what you do is real as f**k. What you do they might not be able to do, but they can’t do anything but respect that. Give you that respect, give you your space, and see as an equal even if you haven’t showed as much, don’t have that many followers. When you have that respect that something that resonates within the bones. It’s huger than record sales, Twitter followers, or any of that bulls**t.
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