Anderson .Paak had enough talent to grab the attention of Dr. Dre and become one of the biggest featured players on 2015's Compton. But that unexpected debut to the world didn't mean that the producer/singer/songwriter didn’t need to seek out another mastermind to help evolve his own sound.
.Paak and his kindred producer, Knxwledge met on Twitter through one of .Paak’s other producers, Duke Westlake. Thanks to the power of the internet, the pair has been able to push .Paak’s soulfully experimental sound in refreshing directions on his latest album, Malibu, which dropped today. Here, .Paak shares the ingredients he thinks are crucial to cooking up a powerhouse collaboration.
1. Understand your own creative process and set the bar high.
Before making a match, have a strong gauge on your sound and always aim for greatness. “There's a certain dynamic I reach when I don't have to worry about other people, what they might think about a certain sound I'm making, or a face, or a bad idea," he said. "Sometimes you have to go through shitty ideas to get to the cream of the crop. Some people don't have a lot of patience for that, some producers. So finding that cream is kind of tough. It's valuable to be able to do that by yourself.”
2. Use your network.
.Paak revealed that he maximized the relationships that he had and built from there. “A lot of it was through musicians and different artists in the circle. That's how I find out about music in general,” .Paak said. “Talking to people whose taste I trust. I'm a drummer first, so a lot of people that I came up in the scene with were musicians, so music is spread around so heavily in L.A. even within the session artists and different things like that. I did a lot of session playing for years, playing for different artists and stuff. You meet a guitar player and he plays for so-and-so and tells you that person is dope you should check it out. Or he has music of his own. You start building from there."
3. It’s totally cool to creep on your dream collaborator’s internet pages.
When .Paak is looking for collaborators or interesting sounds, he spends time on Soundcloud looking at different accounts. “But usually I just end up at Knxwledge's shit and I’m there for hours,” he confessed.
4. Real recognize real.
“It is like a magnet, that law of attraction thing,” .Paak said. “It starts off with being a genuine fan and wanting to really work with these individuals. Usually a couple of weeks, if we're not connected, they'll hit me direct or I'll hit them direct on Twitter and it will just pop off from there.”
5. Just because the two of you may be different, doesn’t mean that you can’t make magic together.
Things aren’t always perfect between .Paak and Knxwledge, but every dream team has its tiffs: “We’ll butt heads on different things. We’re polar opposites. We’re very close. I’m February, he’s March. He’s a pisces, I’m an aquarius. He’s very standoffish, very reserved and I’m the direct opposite of that. I definitely have those traits as well but, we bounce back and forth off each other.”
6. It's important to know your place in the room.
“There’s people you hang around and you feel like you’re the shittiest around them,” .Paak said. “When I hang around people like Knxwledge or Dre or these people that I really respect their taste, that’s where I’m at. I’m not the dopest in the room sometimes when I’m with him and Earl Sweatshirt. [He's] younger than me, they’ve been putting out a lot of material that I really respect. So, I’m not so quick to be like, 'This is the dope shit I’m about to spit.' I’m more like a little more reserved and careful."
7. Always be willing to try things someone else's way.
.Paak explained that Knxlwedge taught him how to keep quiet: “I’d never worked with a producer that was as particular and it helped me particularly when it came to things like, not sharing music before it was time.”
8. It's necessary to give your new partner some breathing room.
.Paak says he and Knxwledge have "an open relationship" and still work on their own projects when they’re not in the studio together.
9. Be flexible
“Compromise is really what it is," he said. "There’s always going to be compromise and push, pull, and take. It’s a marriage and it’s like you have to take their opinions and figure out where you guys meet in the middle.”