X Games Aspen: The Rise and Rise of Anderson .Paak

Anderson .Paak will perform at the X Games on Saturday and at Belly Up Aspen on Sunday.
Courtesy photo |



Friday, Jan. 27

Bassnectar, 9:45 p.m. at Buttermilk

The Chainsmokers, 10 p.m. at Belly Up Aspen


Saturday, Jan. 28

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, 4:30 p.m. at Buttermilk

The Chainsmokers, 9:30 p.m. at Buttermilk

Kygo, 10 p.m. at Belly Up Aspen


Sunday, Jan. 29

G-Eazy, 3:30 p.m. at Buttermilk

Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals, 6 p.m. at Belly Up Aspen

G-Eazy, 10:30 p.m. at Belly Up Aspen


Tickets & more info:;

Since his out-of-nowhere star turn on Dr. Dre’s 2015 solo album “Compton,” Anderson .Paak has been seemingly everywhere — emerging as one of the most exhilarating and unpredictable talents in hip-hop and pop music.

He’s a rapper, a singer-songwriter, a bandleader and a drummer. He can croon with the sweet conviction of Marvin Gaye or spit intricate rhymes like Q-Tip. The raspy-voiced 30-year-old defies categorization, incorporating elements of throwback soul with ’90s hip-hop, funk, jazz, rock, gospel and R&B.

Born Brandon Paak Anderson, the dot in his altered stage name stands for “detail” — he lives up to it as a meticulous studio rat but also as a dynamic performer who cherishes live instrumentals. His epic shows with his live band The Free Nationals — who he’s bringing to Aspen for shows at the X Games and Belly Up this weekend — have quickly become the stuff of legend.

The charismatic California-based multi-hyphenate refuses to pigeonhole himself.

“People were telling me I have to stick in a lane,” he told Rolling Stone last year. “I want to be known as a person who can fit into any room and wear any hat.”

When his second solo album “Malibu” came out a year ago, it was a welcome and unexpected ray of summer sunshine in the depths of winter. The surfing-themed, genre-smashing record remained one of the best albums of the year — an opus that distilled .Paak’s disparate influences and styles into crisp, original hip-hop compositions and thoughtful autobiographical songs that rejected the ego-stoking and materialism of so much mainstream rap.

.Paak followed up the phenomenon of “Malibu” in October with the release of “Yes Lawd!” under the guise of NxWorries — his duo with Knxwledge — which put his soulful vocals at the center of a more beat-centric rap record.

Along with releasing these two stand-out albums, .Paak showed up as a guest on songs with A Tribe Called Quest, Mac Miller and Schoolboy Q. The voice that most fans heard for the first time on six tracks of Dre’s “Compton” was showing up everywhere alongside the cream of the hip-hop crop.

This very big 2016 and these two stand-out albums earned the rapper a Grammy nod for Best New Artist and some high-profile gigs, including a spot in recently ubiquitous NBA commercials performing “Come Down.”

He doesn’t appear to be slowing down in 2017. Along with the X Games shows, he’s recently announced a collaboration with Flying Lotus, his first album with The Free Nationals and just last week teased a snippet of a new song with Chance the Rapper on Snapchat.

Playing with The Free Nationals, the emcee is headlining Saturday evening at the 6,000-capacity venue at Buttermilk Ski Area for the X Games. It promises to be a high point of the X Games concerts, which open tonight with DJ superstar Bassnectar, feature .Paak and DJ duo The Chainsmokers on Saturday, and close with rapper G-Eazy on Sunday.