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As a teenager, Anderson .Paak, born Brandon Paak Anderson in Oxnard, California, played drums in his church band and got into bedroom music production. After he taught at a music school, he helped manage a marijuana farm up the coast in Santa Barbara, but an unexpected termination left him and his family homeless. Rebounding with help from Sa-Ra's Shafiq Husayn, who hired him as an assistant, Paak filled roles ranging from videographer to producer, and studio access enabled him to record his own material. From 2010 through 2012, under the name Breezy Lovejoy, he released the three-song Violets Are Blue and the concise full-lengths O.B.E., Vol. 1 and Lovejoy. During this period, he toured as the drummer for American Idol contestant Haley Reinhart and contributed to a handful of recordings, a small portion of which credited him as Anderson .Paak.
Paak settled on his performing name with the November 2013 release of the Cover Art EP, on which he creatively reworked rock songs by the likes of Neil Young, Toto, and the White Stripes. The following year, he was featured on Shafiq Husayn's "It's Better for You," co-produced Watsky's All You Can Do, and that October released the album Venice. His most substantial and farthest-reaching work to that point, it ventured stylistically into electro-pop, trap, and even footwork. Venice received a profile spike after Dr. Dre released his 2015 album Compton. Paak contributed to six songs on that album, a number two pop hit, and worked not only with Dre but with the likes of fellow featured artists Ice Cube, Eminem, Marsha Ambrosius, and Kendrick Lamar.
Only five months after Compton was released, Paak returned in January 2016 with his second proper album, Malibu. Featuring contributions from 9th Wonder, Rapsody, and Kaytranada, it debuted at number nine on the Billboard R&B/hip-hop chart and was followed nine months later by Yes Lawd!, a full-length recorded with producer Knxwledge under the alias NxWorries. Shortly thereafter, Malibu was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Urban Contemporary Album. Paak himself was up for Best New Artist. Kaytranada's 99.9%, Chance the Rapper's Best Rap Album-winning Coloring Book, ScHoolboy Q's Blank Face, Mac Miller's The Divine Feminine, and Rapsody's Laila's Wisdom were among the many releases on which he made guest appearances during this period.
As Malibu tracks were licensed to the films Everything, Everything, Pacific Rim Uprising, and Marvel's Iron Fist, Paak also expanded his discography as a featured artist with appearances on Chris Dave and the Drumhedz and Black Panther: The Album. Later in 2018, Paak issued the singles "Bubblin" and the Kendrick Lamar-assisted "Tints" through his long-simmering deal with Aftermath. The tracks preceded the November release of Oxnard, which entered the R&B/hip-hop chart at number six and narrowly missed the Top Ten of the Billboard 200. "Bubblin" won the 2018 Grammy for Best Rap Performance. The album's sessions were productive enough to necessitate the release of another full-length, Ventura, in April 2019. More R&B-oriented, Ventura went straight to number four on the Billboard 200. "Come Home," the lone track with a guest rap verse -- courtesy of André 3000 -- took that year's Grammy for Best R&B Performance, and Ventura won Best R&B Album. In 2020, Paak issued the singles "Lockdown" and "Cut Em In," the latter of which saw him team up with Rick Ross. ~ Andy Kellman