Anderson .Paak Talks Early Gigs w/ Sa-Ra, Headlining Arenas & What to Expect From His Upcoming Album ‘Ventura’ [Interview]

Photo by Vickey Ford / Sneakshot for Okayplayer.

We chopped it up with Anderson .Paak; he talked about early gigs with Sa-Ra, performing in local bars vs. arenas, and his new album, Ventura.

Five months. That’s all we will have to wait.

Last month, Anderson .Paak shocked fans when he announced that he would be dropping a new album on April 12th. The news was shocking, considering that .Paak released his highly anticipated album Oxnard in November. (To add some context, it took .Paak two years to create and release Oxnard.)

WATCH: Anderson .Paak perform “Trippy” on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Anderson .Paak also announced he was hitting the road: he is headlining his first arena tour — called the Best Teef in the Game Tour — and getting assists from the likes of Thundercat, Earl Sweatshirt, Noname, Jessie Reyez, and Mac DeMarco. That tour kicks off in May, right after the album drops, and will feature .Paak playing venues like Madison Square Garden in New York City.

READ: The Secret History Of Anderson .Paak’s Malibu Album Artwork

Anderson .Paak is also teaming up with Jameson Irish Whiskey, right in time for Saint Patrick’s Day. Called the #LoveThyBar campaign, .Paak and Jameson are asking people to support their local spots. In exchange, Jameson will offer patrons a whiskey drink on the house (from March 1st to the 31st.) To earn the rebate, people will have to submit a picture of their receipt on Facebook Messenger.

It’s a pretty cool campaign. One that hits close to home for .Paak who, for years, played nothing but small bars and venues. Okayplayer was able to chop it up with .Paak for a couple of minutes. We talked about early gigs with Sa-Ra, performing in local bars vs arena, and his new album, Ventura.

Check out the interview below.  

I didn’t realize local bars were in so much trouble.

It’s partially why I got involved. It makes sense though. Everywhere we go things are looking the same. four or five restaurants that are trying to take over the block. I see it happening. So I was happy that [Jameson is] getting involved.

What was your first local bar spot?

I came up playing in a couple of bars. It’s All Good Bar and another spot called Sharlene’s. Downtown Ventura had all the bars. And multiple live bands would play at all these different bars. These spots you could play and practice as a band.

When we were doing it, me and The Free Nationals had just met, and we needed a place to play for money for food. Those were the spots that let us play, figure it out, learn all these songs, and learn how to work and move a crowd.

There was also Zanzibar and Temple Bar in L.A. The Temple Bar was where I met Sa-Ra. Anything could happen there because that’s where all the soul cats were going. That’s where we played a shit ton of gigs for all of these up-and-coming songwriters.

What do you remember about those early gigs with Sa-Ra?

We were so hyped about that. That was a group we were actually fans of and that we listened to. That was like our big break, like “oh shit.” They hadn’t been playing a lot of shows at the time. They were getting back into playing live shows.

Om’Mas [Keith] was like “do you want to be the band director for Sa-Ra?” And I was like “yeah. Let’s get it.” And that was it. We were practicing in the garage. And we went there and killed that show. We were overly prepared. And I think Thundercat was playing, too. 

Sa-Ra, those are the fathers of that sound…we might as well have been playing for fucking Mariah Carey, or some shit.

You announced your tour recently. And it sounds like you just called a bunch of the homies up.

We’re going to go out, not only with the homies, but the homies that are inspiring us, and who are inspiring the industry. I used to talk to Mac [DeMarco] about this. He was like “we gotta play before it’s too late and we can’t do it.”

I listen to all of these guys. I can’t tell you how much Thundercat I listen to. Or Earl Sweatshirt. I’m just so humbled and shocked that everyone was 100 percent down.

Photo Credit: Vickey Ford for Okayplayer

Compare performing a dive bar to an arena tour?

I used to think I was only going to be doing intimate shows, bar joints. Which I do enjoy. But I been getting used to arenas, man. It feels kind of nice. Like, there is a big ass difference between 2,000 and 6,000 people. Like, the way that shit looks. And then, when they all sing the words, and all of that energy is going towards you. You start going crazy on stage, giving even more of a show. I don’t know if I have a preference, but I learned how to appreciate both. Because I wasn’t really into the arena thing at all before. The more I played them the more I got used to them.

I was legit surprised to hear you were dropping Ventura so soon after Oxnard. Was this always the plan?

We finished them at the same time. We wanted them to be given out at the same time. But there was just timing issues. So I was like “cool, let’s get Oxnard out and then we’ll get Ventura out shortly after.”

I liked that people were surprised. The timing was good, too, because I just got the Grammy and we solidified the tour. So I felt that there was no better timing to give them the other half of the story.

How would you describe Ventura?

There is a lot more soul. A lot of beauty…a lot of funky cool shit, man. [Dr.] Dre has a lot of trust in me. And allows me leeway with the writing and the production…I went through the boot camp — which I felt like Oxnard and Compton were like my boot camp.

Where do you keep the Grammy?

I haven’t gotten it yet, so I’m just keeping it in my memories now. When they send it I gotta figure out what I’m going to do. I might go over the top.

When are you going to link with Madlib again?

Me and Madlib are going to make plenty of music in the future. We got some records that are not out right now. It’s not going to happen this year…but we’re definitely going to have some music coming out.

Photo by Vickey Ford / Sneakshot for Okayplayer.

Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes in coverage centered around music, pop culture, and politics. Email:

Published by
Dimas Sanfiorenzo

Recent Posts

Allen Iverson Talks About the Time He Had to Explain His “Terrible Rap Album” to Ex-NBA Commissioner David Stern

While on Kevin Hart's Cold As Balls, Allen Iverson spoke on late NBA commissioner David Stern… Read More

December 5, 2022

SZA’s New Album ‘S.O.S.’ Will Feature Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Travis Scott & More

SZA has dropped the tracklist for her upcoming album, S.O.S. SZA has finally revealed the… Read More

December 5, 2022

Ice Cube Wants to Regain Ownership of ‘Friday’ Franchise From Warner Bros.

While on podcast Hotboxin' With Mike Tyson, rapper and business mogul Ice Cube spoke about… Read More

December 5, 2022

Best Hip-Hop Videos To Drop Last Week: Westside Gunn, Black Star, Latto & More

Last week video releases from Metro Boomin, Westside Gunn, Latto, and GloRilla were revealed. Westside… Read More

December 5, 2022

Watch the First Trailer for Upcoming Eddie Murphy Comedy ‘You People’

Eddie Murphy, Jonah Hill, Nia Long, Lauren London and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in upcoming Kenya… Read More

December 5, 2022

Fans Went Crazy Over the ‘Kenan & Kel’ Reunion on Saturday Night Live’

On the recent episode of Saturday Night Live, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell revived their… Read More

December 5, 2022