Over the weekend, Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park hosted Anderson .Paak’s third annual .Paak House event. Hosted by Anthony Anderson and featuring performances from .Paak collaborators Emily King, Mereba, The Game, The Free Nationals, YBN Cordae, and more, .Paak House was started by the multi-hyphenate performer as a way to provide a way for families to attend a concert with big-name stars and positive activities for kids without breaking the bank.
Ahead of the concert, .Paak told me that he had actually lived within blocks of the park in his youth, which was part of the reason for holding it here. “I just wanted to be able to give a free party for the neighborhood,” .Paak said. “You know how we used to have block parties. I used to live right down the street on Commonwealth with my family and I remember thinking, ‘I wish we had more things to do’ for families who can’t really afford sh*t to do.” To that end, .Paak recruited some of his standout collaborators from over the past year, telling me that even more artists wanted to participate, but that tight schedules prevented quite as many from showing up.
That didn’t stop the assembled families and fans from having a ball. The event went about as smoothly as any community event I’ve ever attended, The usual assortment of booths providing health information was accompanied by food trucks, face painting for kids, and booths that served as a barbershop and a nail salon. The overall atmosphere truly did bring back memories of block parties and community picnics at the park, where families could congregate and kids could see many of the fun opportunities available just around the corner, from breakdancing and DJ classes provided by the longrunning LA-based non-profit J.U.I.C.E. to watching Grammy-winning artists from their own neighborhood giving back.
Backstage, Anthony Anderson also addressed the importance of having community-based events, telling me he didn’t even need to read the proposal before accepting the hosting gig. “You look at what his [Brandon Anderson] Foundation is doing — creating and building a safe haven for kids in the community so they can realize their dreams and live up to their full potential — and I think it’s just a beautiful thing,” Anderson said. “The only answer I could give him was a ‘yes.'” That “yes” included not only hosting, dance battling, and playing piano, but also raffling off a set visit to Anderson’s popular ABC sitcom, Black-ish, now in its sixth season.
Fans were treated to a dizzying bass solo from Thundercat, an array of raffle prizes like Beats headphones and screenings of Spies In Disguise, a mighty two-man rendition of Kamasi Washington’s “Street Fighter” alongside trumpeter Maurice Brown, Mereba’s beautiful cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song,” and even a dance battle between host Anthony Anderson and his son arranged by Los Angeles institution Tommy The Clown and his Hip-Hop Clowns (you may remember them from the 2005 David LaChapelle film Rize).
Anthony even showed off a little piano virtuoso, playing the recognizable tune from Ready For The World’s “Love You Down” with The Free Nationals’ keyboardist Tvana on talkbox — which became unexpectedly hilarious when Tvana revealed via a vocoder-assisted improv that he didn’t actually know the words. .Paak closed off the concert with his Malibu hit “Come Down,” assisted, fittingly, by a troupe of youth dancers. The sense of community — between the attendees from the neighborhood, the fans, and the performers onstage — was palpable. While it wasn’t as big as some artist-led festivals like Astroworld, Dreamville, Flog Gnaw, or Something In The Water, to all the folks who came out it was just as important. Here’s hoping that .Paak’s example spreads as far as his ever-expanding musical influence.
Some of the artists mentioned above are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.