Anderson .Paak on Bringing His .Paak House Charity Concert to His Hometown: 'The Only Thing That Matters'
Anderson .Paak is coming home.
On Wednesday, the "Leave the Door Open" singer, 35, is bringing his annual .Paak House charity concert event back to his hometown of Oxnard, California, after taking last year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like years past, the event will offer kids activities, gifting, food and community outreach and resources to the families in attendance. It will also feature a lineup of .Paak's famous friends who will come in and out for unexpected performances throughout the day.
Past talent appearances and performances have included Seth Rogen, Kali Uchis, Ty Dolla $ign, Snoh Aalegra, JoJo, Jhené Aiko, Raphael Saadiq and Emily King. On Instagram, .Paak has teased a similarly exciting lineup this year.
"It's great, because it's the only thing that really matters at the end — giving back and being with the community," .Paak tells PEOPLE. "Every time we play the show, and I see the people out there, there's just no greater feeling. When I hit all these performers, no one's getting paid, and it's not through agents. It's just me hitting people direct and saying, 'You down to give two, three songs of your time?' It's big that they provide their time for people who might not never get to see them play."
For people in the community, .Paak (born Brandon Paak Anderson) says the event has become like "their Coachella."
"There are people who have come through with their kids all four years," he says. "You're seeing kids get older who started coming when they were babies. I hope it's inspiring some youngsters out there."
One youngster who has certainly been inspired by the event is .Paak and his wife Jae Lin's 10-year-old son Soul (they also have a 4-year-old son, Shine).
"It's good for my little spoiled son," he says with a laugh. "He was born in Los Angeles, so it's good to slow things down and have him look at the beach and strawberry fields and ask me, 'What's that smell?' 'It's produce, son.'"
"It's good for kids to come out and serve some food and be a part of the community, not just take, take, take," he adds. "I'm really hyped, because every year it's gotten bigger and bigger."
.Paak House is the first initiative by .Paak's Brandon Anderson Foundation, a non-profit that aims to support, uplift, engage and support underserved youth through access to the arts, supplemental education and unique experiences to expand the imagination.
While .Paak has loved hosting .Paak House at MacArthur Park in L.A. in years past, he and his team felt they "outgrew" it and that Oxnard College Park would be better able to accommodate everyone safely.
"I think it was the perfect opportunity to bring it home," he says. "My niece kept telling me, 'You need to do more stuff in the city. You haven't been there in so long.' I was like, 'All right, I got to bring it back home before they start talking about me.'"
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Whenever he goes back home to Oxnard, .Paak — who is nominated for four Grammys at the 2022 awards show for "Leave the Door Open" with Silk Sonic bandmate Bruno Mars — the people there are quick to "humble" him.
"They'll be like, 'Yeah man, you ain't sh—. Where Bruno at?'" he jokes. "But Oxnard has always shown me love. It was one of the first places that gave me a key to the city and my own day."
These days .Paak says he has an appreciation for Oxnard that he didn't have while growing up.
"When I was growing up there, I wanted to get out so quick and go to L.A.," he says. "It was humbling, because I wasn't ready when I got to L.A. I had so much learning to do."
"Now that I'm older, I really appreciate being able to come from a smaller city," he adds. "I think it helped with my perspective, and it made me really appreciate the things I have around me now because we come from real simple beginnings."
While he admits both his boys are definitely "spoiled," .Paak says he and his wife "try to remind them that not everybody has it like this," especially because not even they have always had it like this.
For a time when his elder son was just a baby, .Paak was homeless after being laid off from his job at a marijuana farm. At that time, he and his family relied on friends and couch-surfed until .Paak got more music gigs.
"Soul does remember how things started with our little apartment in Koreatown," he says. "He remembers us taking the bus and going to the WIC office and trying to figure things out."
When .Paak caught the attention of Dr. Dre with his single "Suede," a collaboration with the hip-hop producer Knxwledge, in 2015, his whole life turned around. After Dre signed him to his label and had him perform on his album Compton, his career skyrocketed.
While his career has continually been on the uptick in the years since then, .Paak says that no amount of money can compare to quality time with family.
"With children, the best thing you can do is provide your time and really be present," he says. "At the end of the day, that's better than getting them an Xbox. My kid's got all that stuff, but he legit just wants time with family. He wants everybody to just be hanging out, laughing, and drinking, all together."
He adds that his definition of success has never been defined by money.
"Early on I was taught that success is knowing that you're happy with what you're doing in life and that you have found a passion," he says. "Money will come and go. People will come and go. But if you have that peace, and you have that thing that you found that drives you, it's always something that you can go back to."
"When I was coming up playing drums, I just wanted people I look up to to be like, 'That's sick!' I just wanted to make something that Timberland or Kanye [West] would be like, 'That's sick!,'" he continues. "It wasn't like, 'I want to get a Bentley.' That's how I know I'm successful. I just want to continue to do this passion that I have for music and for the arts. With .Paak House, I want it to always be fun. I think that's why I'm able to keep a smile."
As he looks ahead to the New Year, .Paak has a lot to be excited about. In addition to his Grammy nominations, he is also getting Oscar buzz for his song "Fire in the Sky" that was featured in Marvel's Shang-Chi and is toying with the idea of taking An Evening with Silk Sonic live on tour.
"It's cool to be able to come into this time in my career," he says. "I'm in my 30s now, and I always want to make it exciting and new. We'll see what life has in store!"
While there is currently a waiting list for tickets to the in-person .Paak House event, fans can still join in on the fun through the livestream, tickets for which are available now for $15.
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