Am I Wrong ? – Anderson .Paak ft. Schoolboy Q
Am I wrong to assume
If she can dance, then she can’t ooh?
I miss those teenage days when you would listen to an album back to back around and around and revel in each listen, purr with delight at each unfolding chord sequence, lie back and indulge in the slowly-becoming sweet familiarity of this new music. Your new favourite record. You just couldn’t get enough of it. Sometimes you needed someone else to convert or share it with, but the experience was personal, deep, profound, special. Why a record becomes personal and ‘favourited’ is a mysterious thing – it hits your sweet spot and refuses to budge. First hearing is usually a delight, but it is possible that a favourite will creep up on you. But once you’ve heard it three or four times, you then wonder if it will wear off – and your true favourites never ever do. You simply always love it. Each year I mentally compile my favourites of the year just gone, trying to be ruthlessly honest. But as I get older, fewer and fewer albums or songs manage to penetrate me in the same way. Thus is the golden age born. I love nostalgia but I also love to hear new music, and I always have. Perhaps growing up with the Top 40 every Sunday makes you ready to hear fresh music every week. The new stuff would always get an airing for that huge audience, and often we would go out and buy one we liked. I listen to music and read reviews online these days and seek out new stuff which might appeal to me. Could be anything, usually is…
Last year, in mid-2016, The Guardian online had some kind of “what’s been good so far” music article with some stuff I’d heard (Skepta, Rihanna, Bowie) and some I hadn’t (Margo Price). In the below-the-line discussion Cif (Comment Is Free) area, a place I usually avoid due to certain frothing at the mouth trolls and gits, were the usual types whinging about the Guardian or their own favourite band. Anderson .Paak was mentioned four separate times by people simply saying “listen to this fella”. It is usually a good indicator of something worth checking out. Next minute I’m on Youtube listening to this brilliant LP Malibu which came out in February 2016. I am immediately hooked and buy it on iTunes. Each time I hear it after that it gets better. And better. Eventually I burn it onto a CD and give it to Tony Gerber, Lynn Nottage’s husband and my New York gig buddy and friend. The people we see the most here, they’re about 20 blocks away in Boerum Hill.
Tony Gerber avec du vin blanc
We’ve seen Young Fathers, FKA Twigs, Kode9, I gave him my Run The Jewels tickets, we went to Stevie Wonder together. Tony is a documentary director and runs his own company Market Road Films from an office in Gowanus near the canal. Last year he went to Liberia, Congo, Iraq, Turkey, the UK and Kurdish Iraq making documentary films, mainly for Nat Geo. He works all over the world often in dangerous spots and always dependent on a local fixer for his and his crew’s safety, interviewing militias in the Eastern Congo or Kurdish fighters about to go into battle with ISIS in Iraq. Tony enjoys the buzz understandably and he knows what he is doing in terms of film-making. He’s been all over the world. Market Road Films has a small but eclectic staff and always has some younger trainees and interns from interesting places. They throw a mean Halloween Party every year with an open mic for ‘moths’, plenty booze and food and a few intrepid types in fancy dress. Jenny and I decided to indulge in fancy dress last year. Sorry no pix.
Tony, Wally and Lynn last summer in their garden
But usually Tony and I meet at his and Lynn’s house, a classic Brooklyn brownstone where her Dad Wally has the ground floor, and Tony & Lynn & their children the three floors above that, with the kitchen right at the top, bedrooms in the middle and living room by the front door which is up the stoop from the sidewalk. Often when we visit there are other family members, friends, a convivial gathering including writers, film-makers, lawyers, policewomen, producers, United Nations employees, directors and real-estate brokers. New Yorkers. And what was very lovely about going round there last year in particular was Tony playing this CD I’d burned for him with regularity – and always pointing out to the assembled throng that I’d introduced him to Anderson .Paak. Why ? Because he actually loved it as much as me. I should point out at this point that Tony and Lynn have two kids – Melkamu who is now 8 yrs old and Ruby who is in her first year at college aged 19. So Ruby brings music too and now and again we would sit around and listen to this and that – hip hop, Drake, Princess Nokia. One of the best gigs we went to last year was in the Music Hall in Williamsburg, a couple of miles north of where Jenny and I live. Tony, Ruby and Ruby’s friend Isabel and I went to see LA producer laptop DJ genius Flying Lotus. He joyously played Busta Rhymes ‘Gimme Some More’ (My Pop Life #42) in amongst his own songs, none of which broke the three minute mark. Great gig. I am currently grooving to his compadre – the bass player Thundercat‘s new album “Drunk” – the best thing of 2017 so far. They are both part of a new young jazz/hip-hop collective based in Los Angeles which includes Kendrick Lamar on whose masterpiece album To Pimp A Butterfly they both appeared in 2015.
So in a father-daughter kind of dynamic Tony likes to introduce Ruby to new stuff as well, a two way street being better than one. I reckon!
Anderson .Paak is also from L.A. but further up the coast. The countryside. In fact if you’ve ever been to Los Angeles you’ve probably heard the local radio station KCRW, one of the best in the world, broadcasting out of Santa Monica and other transmitters including KCRU Oxnard Ventura, which gets called on the hour every hour. Oxnard is an area north of Malibu, rural, coastal, rugged and beautiful and is where Anderson grew up. His (half-Korean) mother had a strawberry farm there for years until it went bust. His father disappeared after beating his mother in the street when Anderson (actual name Brandon) was very young. He worked in a marijuana farm for a while after learning the drums in church and made his musical debut under the excellent name Breezy Lovejoy. The first Anderson .Paak LP (the dot is a gimmick to attract attention) was Venice in 2014. In 2015 he appeared on six tracks on Dr Dre‘s album Compton. In 2016 he released Malibu and another record : Yes Lawd! with collaborator Knxwledge under the collective moniker Nx Worries. He sings, he raps, he plays the drums, he grooves. Boy he grooves. The whole of Malibu is one groove after another, old skool style but fresh as a daisy. It is an amazing record. I’ve heard a few interviews with him and he hates the lazy designation ‘Urban Music’. He is a country boy. But this is disco funk. This is soul music.
I waited for another record to beat it last year – a new Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, Solange, A Tribe Called Quest, Frank Ocean. All excellent. Beyoncé made her finest to date, Lemonade, which many felt was the album of 2016. But to quote my own honesty from earlier, it wasn’t the record that I kept playing last year. The one that I couldn’t get enough of. The one that never went stale, every play enhancing my love for it. The one Tony always put on when I went over there. What a precious feeling. To be young again !!
Anderson .Paak ‘playing’ on the Ellen show with his band The Free Nationals :