The annual South By Southwest (SXSW) festival is an important weekend for a lot of people, in countless ways. Traditionally, it has served as a platform for new artist discovery, with hungry tastemakers looking to find the next big thing before the summer music festival begins. In a lot of ways, Anderson Paak has been the next big thing, but let’s allow SXSW to serve as further confirmation for anyone who still needs convincing.
Anderson Paak, born Brandon Paak Anderson, weaves in and out of R&B, Hip Hop, soul and whatever else, and his music feels reflective of his personality. He is free-spirited, energetic and eccentric— all of these qualities play into his aesthetic, musically. Dr. Dre invited him to work on Compton, and ever since then, he’s been doing exactly what someone in his position needs to be doing—consistently impressing everyone and keeping the momentum going.
SXSW was further testament Paak is on the right path and this time next year will be a whole different story for the musician if the dots continue to connect for the artist.
Simply put: Anderson Paak was the MVP of SXSW this year.
Anderson Paak’s name was everywhere without visibly and obviously being everywhere. While Yo Gotti’s street team has been on another level since the release of The Art Of Hustle, Anderson Paak had his name in places that arguably hold more weight, namely coming out of people’s mouths and filling people’s text message inboxes.
“Are you coming to see Paak?!”
My personal goal of the weekend was to catch a live set from him and his band, and I achieved this four times over. To catch any artist more than once at SXSW is special because, while some artists double up on showcases to make the absolute most of their time in this particular environment, it is also a favor to those who missed catching a set due to a conflicting schedule or being in a vicinity that dictated which artist one actually got to see.
Paak made himself accessible with ease, fueled by his casual hustle, and did this by being a coveted surprise performer, in addition to his slated appearances. His name graced the flyers for showcases organized by House of Vans and NPR, performing longer, scheduled sets to the delight of those who circled his name in their festival guides, while afterwards gracing the stage as a special guest at the Stones Throw showcase and an after hours club, where the likes of Young Dolph and Kanye West’s Desiigner were occupying spaces and Snapchats. He probably also was other places throughout the weekend I didn’t catch wind of, further making him the MVP.
SXSW teaches some artists they need to work on their performance game, with sets serving as a wake-up call that in order to win over an audience like those at South By, one has to be adaptive. Artists share bills at SXSW they wouldn’t normally share with other artists, regardless of genre, and therefore the audience is typically different. Reading a crowd’s energy is an important part of the live experience and Anderson Paak excels at this. His performances feel intimate and cool, doubling as a party and display of his insane talent.
Throughout the weekend, his sets were diverse and weren’t a regurgitating of material from one stage to another. With his January 2016 release, Malibu, he does have some already fan-favorites to choose from, but he didn’t go track-by-track straight off of the album. His ability to mix up his material created a favorable experience each set. In a way, he didn’t divulge too much of his soul either or oversaturate SXSW with his music, and that made everyone want more.
Anderson Paak is incredible. With an extensive skill set ranging from his various vocal talents and his live drumming to his curation of his band, Paak is aware he has built something organically, proving he deserves the successes he is starting to taste. With a background in drumming, keyboards, production and percussion, Paak’s talent is undeniable, and his innovations are intriguing and intelligent. His sound is varied and as a result, Paak appeals to different people for different reasons. His musical range presents the ability for him as a performer to recruit indie rock fans without a fight while his Hip Hop sensibilities win over those who aren’t totally on board. His talent isn’t corrupted by over-production and he lets his music do the talking for him and this is part of what makes him refreshing as a rising artist in 2016.
Being humble in a music industry built off of the ego is a major key. Paak knows this and in a way, he reminds us of the likes of Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo or The Roots. It’s about the music with Paak, and as a performer, this is the most important reason why he’s the MVP of the past weekend.
Anderson Paak embodies the very spirit and energy of the entire festival itself. He is eager to get his music out there, and is both tactful and spontaneous in the way that he, or his people, approach doing so. There’s just something about his vibe as a performer and songwriter that is very charming. As his fanbase and career continues to grow, we can all just hope the music industry doesn’t steal his authenticity from him.