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Anderson .Paak Gets Political And Satirical: 'America's Turning Into A Big Meme'

"I feel like with this album, I wanted to challenge myself and do other things," Anderson .Paak says.
Emma McIntyre
Getty Images
"I feel like with this album, I wanted to challenge myself and do other things," Anderson .Paak says.

From the ominous narratives of Vince Staples to Kanye West's blunt partisanship, the line between the personal and political in hip-hop is becoming increasingly thin. Anderson .Paak is the latest to chime in with his new album, Oxnard, out now, which arrives as equal parts escapism and realism. One song in particular, "6 Summers," tackles the absurdities of America's politics, the gun violence debate and meme culture.

From the first few guitar chords, .Paak kicks in the door with, "Trump's got a love child and I hope that b**** is buckwild," and later sings, "Pop, pop, pop goes the shooter / Reform, reform shoulda came sooner."

"Every day there's a new situation that's going on," .Paak told NPR's David Greene in an interview recently recorded for Morning Edition. "So I had to write about it. Some artists are not affected, socially, with what's going on around them. They create their own thing, and then maybe that helps other people escape that. I do that, too. But I feel like with this album, I wanted to challenge myself and do other things."

The lyrics behind the song's title — "This s*** gon' bang at least six summers / But ain't s*** gon' change for at least three summers" — point to 2021, the first summer of a new administration in the White House if Trump is not re-elected.

And while .Paak says he wants to express his views on current events, he's not looking to lecture his listeners. In the vein of contemporaries like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar — who both appear on Oxnard — .Paak says his goal is to make you dance and think, " 'Woah, this dude's really talking about something. I don't got to stop what I'm doing — the song is still funky, too — but dang, he's actually really talking about some real stuff.' "To that end, the song gets a jazzy delivery even at its most probing and satirical.

"Every day it seems like America's turning into just a big meme," .Paak adds. "Just a crying Jordan face."

Oxnard is out now via Aftermath Entertainment.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.