Anderson .Paak Didn’t Happen Overnight. He Tells His Origin Story (Video)

Anderson .Paak’s recent rise to fame is an exemplary case study in what it means to be an overnight sensation in today’s age. Having appeared on some of 2015’s biggest Rap albums – Dr. Dre’s Compton and the Game’s The Documentary 2.5 – the Oxnard, California native did not appear out of nowhere. Having originated as a drummer in local churches, the artist born Brandon Paak Anderson has been entrenched in Southern California’s music scene for well over a decade. As Breezy Lovejoy, he first established a name for himself at Los Angeles performance spaces like Bananas and Low End Thoery, and played regularly at venues across the city where he began to formulate his drummer-singer-rapper persona. A name change and several years later, he is now arguably one of the talents of a generation, and his Malibu LP is hands-down a gamechanger and contender for best of 2016. But much of his backstory remains unknown.

Earlier today (July 28), AP stopped by the Breakfast Club in New York City or an interview with Charlamagne tha God, DJ Envy, and Angela Yee and when asked to take listeners way back, he obliges. After commenting that he read somewhere it took AP 13 years to get put on and that there were times when he felt like giving up, Charlamagne asks his guest to elaborate (4:30). “Yeah, there were a couple times, man. I was just watching everybody else [take off]. But I had a family, I had a kid. I got a son and a wife, and I was literally goin’ couch surfing with my fam. I just didn’t have no direction,” he says. “Nobody wanted to fuck with me.”

Shortly thereafter, .Paak shares insight into his past divorce and his second marriage and drops some Korean to shout-out his current wife and her family. But it’s at the 6:17 mark when Charlamagne asks his guest to share insight into his experience being homeless for a short time, and the interview gets very compelling. “I was homeless couch surfing. Thank god for the homies from Sa-Ra – Shafiq Husayn. It was just homies that took me in. They’d be like ‘you talented bro, you can stay here. You can work with us. You can do this, that.’ I trimmed weed, I did whatever I could.” .Paak elaborates on his definition of “homeless,” too, saying “you know what, I don’t feel like I was ever without home. With me, there was never a time where I couldn’t go somewhere. I got siblings – I got two older siblings – and honestly, I lived with them. When one sister kicked me out, I moved with the other one.” However, there were a couple of times when he says he was “in between places and there was one time when my homie Shafiq said ‘my spot is about to get foreclosed on, but you can stay here ’til the sheriff come.'”

.Paak’s marriage comes up again later in the interview, and he shares the story of he met his current wife. As a student at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, .Paak (who was then still performing as Breezy Lovejoy) met a Korean woman in class. “I met her at music school,” he begins near the 8:00 mark. “I got into that school but I had to drop ’cause I couldn’t afford it. Nobody would give me a loan and I couldn’t get financial aid, so I dropped. But then [the school administrators] were like ‘you’re good, so we’re going to hire you as a T.A.’ And that’s how I met my wife, ’cause she was in the vocal class, and you know, all the Asians wanted to be with the Black shit, so they were always at the Gospel classes and the Blues. And I was part of the Gospel band.”

At the 10:42 mark, .Paak shares the tragic story involving his parents, namely his father’s incarceration, drug addiction, and his mother’s experience as the victim of domestic abuse. “My dad had problems with drugs and alcohol, and things got a hold of him. That was the one time I ever saw him. I was like, seven years old, and he was just all messed up on it. My mom’s was coming home from work one day and he just tackled her in the street. He had a lot of issues, and I think. He passed away when I was like, 23 or something. He did about 14 year and got out. He started calling me and we started building a connection. He really wanted me to come and visit him, but honestly…I put it off. I didn’t know he was dying, but he knew he was dying. He had cancer. And now I understand why he was so adamant about trying to build that relationship with me.”

.Paak’s deeply personal interview also touches upon his mother’s incarceration, his first marriage, his relationship with Dr. Dre, his experience as a member of this year’s XXL Freshman Class, and much more. Heads interested in hearing more about .Paak’s work as Breezy Lovejoy and his name change can check out this 2014 interview with Wine & Bowties.