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Anderson .Paak exploded onto the scene in 2016 with Malibu, his second studio album under his current stage name, but he had been grinding for years before that as a rapper under the name Breezy Lovejoy. Now a part of the massive Aftermath empire with Dr. Dre manning the helm, the singer hopes that his upcoming album Oxnard will earn its place among the great Hip-Hop classics of lore.

Sitting down with Rolling Stone for a phone call as he and his Free Nationals band tours across Europe, the 32-year-old .Paak finds himself attempting to hold onto his humility despite the trappings of global fame sitting at his feet. During the interview, .Paak says he’s putting a lot of energy and final touches to Oxnard, hoping to add something weighty to Hip-Hop’s current landscape.

From Rolling Stone:

To stay grounded, Anderson turned his gaze back home for his next project, Oxnard, named after the Southern California city where he grew up (and due out later this year). “When you go everywhere, you just hold on to the things that made you,” he says.

With its sprawling psychedelic grooves and confident verses, the album is his tribute to a bygone era of major-label rap — a time when beats from the best producers in the game were on back-to-back songs, where artists went big or went home. “I feel like ambition is missing from today’s music,” he says. “This is the album I dreamed of making in high school, when I was listening to [Jay-Z]’s The Blueprint, The Game’s The Documentary, and [Kanye West’s] The College Dropout.”

Getting signed by Dr. Dre helps make that sort of vision happen. “Dre, that was the pinnacle,” Anderson says. “So to be able to have him now as a mentor, it’s just surreal.” Dre’s more than a mentor in this case — he’s executive producing Oxnard, a co-sign (and level of involvement) that doesn’t come around often these days. Anderson, true to form, is attempting to stay even-keeled.

“You just have to stay steady and trust that what you’re doing is going to work,” he says. “And I’ve learned you have to drink a lot of water to stay healthy.”

Check out the rest of the interview here.

Photo: WENN