For four months this year, Anderson .Paak was a ticking time-bomb of excitement, holding in the biggest secret of his career thus far. He was living a double life; a rising phenomenon on the L.A. underground scene to the outside world, he’d be meeting up with Dr. Dre in top secret studio sessions to work on the legendary producer’s third album Compton, which would eventually spring up out of nowhere a week before the release of N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton biopic in August. Although he admits he wanted to tell “everybody”, .Paak managed to contain himself for the sake of the music. “It was more important to me just to be able to make the album and I didn’t want to mess that up in any way,” he explains. “So as hard it was I just had to be quiet. I was just appreciative to be in the room and work with him extensively.” Despite spending a third of his year crafting the record, he wasn’t quite sure to what extent he’d appear on the album until its official release on Apple Music and iTunes. In the tracklist revealed by Dre a week prior to impact, he’d appeared four times, but on the final version he made six songs. “So that it was that many tracks… man it was amazing,” he says, still in awe.
While Compton, to many listeners, was the introduction to a new star on the horizon – his collaboration with Dre is the product of over a decade honing his craft. Formerly operating as Breezy Lovejoy, .Paakdecided to revert to his third and middle name (his full name is Brandon Anderson Paak) a couple of years ago during a transitional period. He was homeless and just starting a family, with his wife and newborn son, but knew that music was the only thing he could pursue. “People spend their whole lives building up somebody else’s dream or fitting into some system just because they were comfortable and afraid to reach out and do things that they really loved to do,” he says. “My mom did what she wanted to do, my pops did what he wanted to do, and those were the examples that I had. It was very hard and it took a lot of balls to just trust in my art and that I didn’t need anything else because this is what made me happy. It’s one thing to find that, and it’s another thing to go out on a limb and trust yourself to commit to it.” He was developing his work ethic at the time and wanted a clean slate, applying a new level of seriousness to his writing and vocal approach, “I wanted my sound to be unique to myself and I wanted a voice that nobody else had. I spent a lot of time developing that and when I came up out of it I wanted to drop the moniker Breezy Lovejoy and I just wanted to go with my real name.”