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Coachella 2016: Before Calvin Harris, Sunday was Anderson .Paak’s night

Singer, rapper and drummer Anderson .Paak performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

Singer, rapper and drummer Anderson .Paak performs at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Coachella’s closeout Sunday night was all about Rihanna and Calvin Harris. But earlier in the evening? That was all Anderson .Paak.

The singer, arranger and drummer has been a fixture in L.A. hip-hop and R&B, and is finally getting his due after his great LP “Malibu.” His set at Coachella might have done just as much for his steady rise as his cosign from Dr. Dre.

Early in the afternoon, .Paak dropped by the Sahara tent to perform with his collaborator TokiMonsta, who played her own fine set of slow-crawling but ferocious beat music to a busy crowd. .Paak guests on her singles “Put It Down” and “Realla,” and his appearance instantly reignited the Sahara with his limber charisma, and vocals that rerouted her spacey productions back into soulful R&B.

But his own set at the next-door Mojave was even better. .Paak is a natural frontman, bounding around the stage with little leaps and jabs at big moments. He finally earned his overdue notice appearing all over Dr. Dre’s “Compton,” and with that little push, his own star power is now out in full force.

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By now, he’s known to climb behind the drum set for a good swath of his performances, but it still brought home the serious musicality behind his vision when he did it at Coachella. “The Season / Carry Me” was a particular highlight, as he used his drumming to bolster a story from his childhood about his mom buying him Air Jordans that turned into him recognizing his weaknesses.

.Paak pulled out some guests of his own - the guitarist Gary Clark Jr. and, most electrically, the rapper T.I., who grinned and verbally sparred with .Paak in a high-spirited tete-a-tete.

From down-tempo electro to throwback soul to radio-ready rap: How many other singers could cover that kind of terrain in a just a few hours at Coachella?

Follow @AugustBrown for breaking music news.


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