Anderson .Paak Talks 'Malibu,' Working with Dr. Dre, Growth and More [Q&A]
If you aren't well versed on Anderson .Paak then you are truly depriving yourself of someone amazing. The rapper/singer, has been making waves since he dropped his EP, Violets Are Blue, in 2010. Since then, he has released multiple EPs and the hit album, Venice in 2014. Now, starting off the year right, Anderson .Paak is back with his second studio album, Malibu, dropping today and we had the opportunity to speak to him about it. Read what Anderson .Paak had to say about the process of making his new album, working with Dr. Dre and The Game, personal growth and more.
Tell me what was the difference of the process in regards to making Malibu and making Venice?
With Venice I did a lot. I did the whole record with Lo_Def and he was my main producer for that album. That whole process, we worked hard on it. It was mostly done at his studio. We had reached out to a few other producers but he was the main guy behind that project; it was his baby. Before there was so much attention we were kind of like we need to put out something and get some attention and we really wanted to get something that kind of resonated with the scene and become a serious factor. By that time I had songs that I recorded prior that I wanted to use for Malibu but I knew I wanted to push Venice. I wanted to them to be opposites but not complete opposites; I wanted it to be a growth from Venice to Malibu so by the time we had gotten to Malibu there had been things that had been transpired with the whole Dr. Dre and The Game thing. A lot of different things were happening. We were getting a lot of attention and I think it was due to records on Venice and songs like, "Suede."
With Malibu I was really inspired after working with Dr. Dre. I came into Malibu with a whole new inspiration and a whole new bigger tenacity. After being with Dre and then going right in and working with The Game, I was kind of in the zone. After the Dre thing, I was on tour with Nxworries, my band and Earl Sweatshirt, just getting really inspired by that. I was just recording all the time and I recorded in a bunch of different studios and I was working with a bunch of different producers and it was more spread out than Venice and I think I was coming in a little more into my artistry by the time I hit Malibu especially my vocal approach. I was kind of more locked in on how I wanted to sound on records and stuff.
Who did you work with on production on Malibu?
I worked with Callum Connor, The Free Nationals, 9th Wonder, Dem Jointz, Madlib, DJ Khalil, Hi-Tek, Chris Dave, Robert Glasper, POMO, Mibbs from Pac Div and Kaytranada.
You have a good amount of unique features and they all come from a different variety of music. How did you decide who you wanted on Malibu?
You know it's kind of just how the songs form and if they need a feature I just bring someone in. I had a few people I wanted to get on records with like BJ the Chicago Kid and ScHoolboy Q but half the records come to a certain point where they're like you know who would sound good on this and you bring them in. Like with ScHoolboy and The Game, I had been working on their projects and I was like you know what it's worth it if they like the tune and see if they want to get on it. I had a couple that I thought worked with them and the one I thought would work with ScHoolboy he was feeling it but he was really feeling another one and I didn't even think to put him on that but once he got on it just made sense. It just comes after the song gets developed. These are all people I'm big fans of. When I was traveling and I was on tour, I was in North Carolina and that's when I met 9th Wonder and Rapsody and I didn't even know how dope she was until I was in the studio with her.
You mentioned working with the The Game and on his album, The Documentary 2, how was it like working with him not only on your album but his album too?
It was really dope. It was exciting I just loved going in the studio and they would just put me on the spot and they would say if you hear something go in there and I just loved it. It was such a cool feeling to be around that energy. It helped me for sure; helped me figure out even more what I wanted to do for Malibu. It was really cool and he gave me a lot of good advice; real supportive man.
We were coming to the end of it [studio session] and I was like, "Would you be down to get on the track?" And he was super about it. I played him the song and he was like, "What is the song about?" And I'm like, "It's about wanting to be in a room alone with someone you like." And he was like alright and he wrote his verse in 5 minutes, went in and dropped the verse. I thought it was really cool; a different verse for him.
How was it working with Dr. Dre?
It felt amazing! That stamp. That co-sign. Everybody doesn't get that but dreams of getting it. I couldn't imagine ever really getting a change to work with him but I always wanted to so it's like this is what we always wanted so I guess it makes sense. But to think if someone would have told me I'd be on his project five years ago I wouldn't have believed them. It was amazing to work with him. I was just trying to really be in the moment and capture every little piece and soak up every little thing while there because I didn't know if I would be back. Or if they would keep the music. I was just really excited and happy and felt blessed to be working in the same room as him. I had no clue that all the other stuff I recorded would actually make the record.
A photo posted by Andy (@anderson._paak) on Jul 21, 2015 at 6:18pm PDT
How did you find out that all that music you recorded actually made it on the Compton album?
Well, everybody was saying, "Yo everybody loves the record and this and that." I was going back to the studio all the time and he would hit me up and ask me to come up and I was always in there and I loved being in there helping out and once it started getting to the tail end I was like, "Damn I'm on a lot of records," but I didn't know what was going to stay. Once the pre-order came out that's when it was really legit and it was like, "Oh shoot! I'm on a lot of records." And then they updated the pre-order and I was on even more records so I was like, "Yo! Wow, he didn't even have to! Some of them he didn't even have to give me that credit on there and that's when I became aware he was making a point, "This is that dude." And I was so appreciative. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it.
Now that album is Grammy nominated and you're a part of that. If they were to win a Grammy, you would be a part of that. How does that feel?
It's amazing. I was on the road when that came out. It was just like this year is crazy it's happening. It's like dude these are people that are your heroes growing up that you listen to. They're huge in my artist development so to be a part of the team and be recognized by the Grammys for it is like "What is happening right now?!" This is definitely what you always wanted to happen, what you dream of and I'm living it and I'm taking it all in.
Your album is dropping next week on Friday. With a week to go, how are you feeling? Nervous? Excited?
I'm not nervous. I really just would love for it to be out. I can't wait for the people to hear it. I'm anxious for people to hear it. I'm really proud of this music. I'm really proud where we went with it. It was a natural progressive step in the right direction and I feel like a lot of people have been waiting for an album like this just in general. A lot of people have been waiting for an album like this from me and I'm curious to see what the feedback is because I think it's really dope.
I've listened to Malibu a few times and it's a new vibe compared to what is out right now. You're starting a new trend. How does it feel for you to be starting a new trend for people and giving fans something they haven't had in quite some time?
Yeah that's the most important thing for me right now. Taking chances is the most important thing to me. I'm not concerned or interested in following the trend or doing things that other people are doing that the moment. I've always naturally wanted to do something different and that's natural to myself and that works for me. What we're doing on this is something that people are really getting into right now and there's not enough people doing it. I want more of a conversation with R&B and hip hop and I want to shake things up.
You have a good variety of songs, it's not a short album and it's not too long it's like the right length. What songs do you like the most off of Malibu?
I like "Heart Don't Stand a Chance," "Your Prime," and "Silicon Valley." I feel like it's one of my better vocal performances I don't think I've ever done a ballad like that ["Silicon Valley"]. "Silicon Valley" is like I've never done a straight ahead ballad like that, it's definitely me but it's something I've never done so I'm kind of stoked about that one.
You are planning on going on tour soon. What are you excited for the most?
I'm just super excited to see the fans. They give me so much inspiration for the next project and so much life you know especially overseas they are so appreciative of the music and these people work so hard. Some of them don't get to go out and cop all the music you put out but they save all year to see your show and get their CD signed and see you in person. I love receiving that energy and doing something great with it. That's what I'm the most excited about. Seeing the people and traveling around. That's when you really get to see the reception of some of the songs you put out and see if they're really feeling it
Going back to 'Venice' and even prior to that, you've had such a long journey but a positive one and you have definitely grown whether it's with your music or your personal life so how has your music grown as your personal life has changed?
I think I've gotten a little more strategic and a little more potent with what I'm doing. I've learned to value my time more and utilize my time better. My personal life has changed; I have a family to support. My time is valuable so when I'm in the studio I'm chasing my next best song. You're only as good as your last song so I'm really working smarter not harder and I really feel like I'm utilizing my time more, getting back and focusing on my show.
I really have to prioritize because the main focus is my family and this music, those are my babies right there and I have to really focus what's best for those two things and a lot of times I don't have time to do other things because those are distractions from what's important.
For the people who are just getting to know who you are or just getting into your music, what do you want them to get from you as an artist and from Malibu?
Inspiration. I want them to feel cool, sexy, smart and hip. I want them to get all those things and I want them to feel inspired to do great things and catch a good vibe. I just want it to be a soundtrack for our generation and catch good vibes from it.