Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals
Status: Blowing Up
Why You Should Pay Attention: This 30-year-old L.A. singer and MC works in the same expansive neo-soul vein that Kendrick Lamar has made such a vital part of modern hip-hop, and his music also showcases a healthy respect for the rhythmic basics of Nineties rap. Almost a year and a half ago, Rolling Stone said .Paak was an Artist You Need to Know when he released his first album, Venice. Since then, he's contributed to six tracks on Dr. Dre's monumental comeback album, Compton and, just this January, released his critically acclaimed follow-up. With lyrics grounded in relatable details of everyday life, Malibu is even more ambitious musically than its predecessor, and .Paak has assembled a hot funk band, the Free Nationals, to recreate that sound live and carry it even further.