Pion-Ear: Anderson .Paak

Benji Wilton, sports editor

Brandon Paak Anderson is not a rapper. His brand of hip-hop does not resemble the mainstream mumbles that dominate the top charts. Anderson .Paak is a poet. In today’s age of lean-guzzling “Lil” rappers and trap anthems with “yuh” and “aye” galore, he provides a diverse range of sounds and lyrics that refresh the ears of those who listen. When he appeared in the 2016 XXL Freshman lineup, which features up-and-coming rappers each year, the 32-year-old Paak was noticeably out of place. Side-by-side with “mumble rappers” such as Desiigner and Kodak Black, who speak in a jumbled, mutated version of English, an R&B singer like Paak confused fans of the XXL cyphers with his change of pace. Unlike others, he enunciates his words and effectively uses instrumental and vocal accompaniments to craft unique songs. While mainstream rappers grind out repetitive trap music, Paak takes time to create works of art.

In Anderson .Paak’s music, the meaning behind the craft flows harmoniously into your ears. He eloquently speaks of events in his past and present life, which does not include the flexing of riches and drug habits of chart-topping songs. For instance, he often raps about his experiences growing up in Oxnard, Calif., and the special bond he shared with his mother, who he witnessed being assaulted by his estranged father when he was seven years old. Perhaps this is why Paak hasn’t reached peak popularity; he’s doing his own thing and stands out from the crowd. Accompanied by his band the Free Nationals, every beat and background instrumental is original, which contributes heavily to the quality of his music. Paak never lets his quality falter. He has been featured on projects such as Chance The Rapper’s “Coloring Book” and Mac Miller’s “The Divine Feminine,” both of which gained immense praise for their artistry. Additionally, Paak only brings in the highest quality features on his own work. In October 2018, he released “Tints” featuring Kendrick Lamar, arguably the most well-respected rapper in the game. So far, Paak hasn’t let fame or affect his quality, and hopefully he never will.

Before 2018, Paak released two albums named after cities in California: “Venice” (2014) and “Malibu” (2016). These could hardly be categorized as rap albums, as most of the tracks were groovy R&B songs. “Venice” accumulated little attention, and never hit any top charts. Because of increased attention through his XXL appearance and his features on Dr. Dre’s “Compton” soundtrack, Paak’s second studio album, “Malibu,” reached 79th position on the U.S. charts and was nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album at the Grammy Awards. With his 3rd studio album “Oxnard” releasing on Nov. 17, 2018, and several successful singles already released this year, 2018 seems to be the year where Paak gets the recognition he deserves.