By most measures, 32-year-old singer, rapper and bandleader Anderson .Paak is at the top of his game. He has been mentored by Dr. Dre, opened for Beyoncé, been featured in ads for Google, Apple and Amazon and made a live-wire December debut on Saturday Night Live. But he has another secret weapon: the support of some of the music biz’s most powerful executives. Last March, he became the first act signed to 12 Tone, the label backed by Tim Cook’s Apple and run by Doug Morris and Steve Bartels, and more recently picked up management from father/son power duo Irving and Jeffrey Azoff. Now, he has scored his third Grammy nomination, for best rap performance for “Bubblin” -- all without ever entering the top 10 of any major Billboard chart. “I guess the biggest thing is just patience, man, and maintaining relationships,” he says -- like those with these leaders who’ve helped map out his path to stardom.
CEO, Aftermath Entertainment
Dre, who executive-produced Anderson .Paak’s latest album, Oxnard, met him in 2015, when working with the artist on Dre’s own Compton. “He has given me a lot of advice as far as what to do with the people who help with your business,” says Anderson .Paak. “Making sure you run audits, just making sure you’re aware of everything that’s going on with your monthlies, that you’re signing your own checks.”
Miller, a two-decade industry veteran, helped the artist form his own record label, OBE, and negotiate deals to license his music in ads and expand his reach. “He taught me things like, ‘When you sign with people it’s a partnership,’” says Anderson .Paak. “You don’t necessarily want to take a big advance in the beginning; if anything, you want to try to get a joint venture. You want to have them invest in your own company.”
Irving & Jeffrey Azoff
Full Stop Management
The super-powered management team took over handling Anderson .Paak’s career during the past year and has helped him solidify his brand and plan out his career going forward. “They’re all about getting me paid what I should be getting paid,” he says. “They want to know exactly what I want for myself, what I want for this year, for the next five years, and they’re all about getting those things.”