Stones Throw Records • October 21st, 2016
By: Ross Masloski
*Out of 5
Yes Lawd! is a fitting title for NxWorries latest release; it is exactly what I exclaimed when I listened for the first time, impressed by Paak’s soulful vocals and Knxwledge’s smooth, velvety production.
Released October 21st, the album is structured like a mixtape, with some of the 19 tracks acting as transitions and skits between longer songs. Fans have been waiting anxiously for this release since the duo, comprised of Anderson Paak and Knxwledge, shared the EP Link Up & Suede. Stones Throw Records played matchmaker for the artists, possibly creating the label’s best duo since Madvillain. They have a perfect give and take; neither standing out over the other on the album. If you’re familiar with Anderson Paak, this was a hard feat to achieve given that his vibrant vocals can easily dominate a song, but Knxwledge’s skilled production holds its own, especially on the transitions between songs and in sample heavy tracks like “Best One” and “Lyk Dis”. Both Knxwledge and Paak have recently been thrust into hip hop’s spotlight when they were recognized by rap heavyweights Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre. Knxwledge received production credits on Lamar’s track “Momma” from To Pimp a Butterfly, and Paak was heavily featured on Dre’s newest album Compton.
The album chronicles the struggle of making it, the temptation of infidelity, and, at the risk of being crass, really really really great sex. Its opening carries a feeling of triumph with strong drums and horns coupled with Paak’s signature cries of “Let’s get it!” and “Yes Lawd!” that transition “Intro” into “Livvin.” The pace of the album begins to slow down with the sensual standout, “Best One,” upon which Paak flaunts his vocal versatility and shows his range of emotion. He also channels this same suave ladies’ man character on “Lyk Dis”, aided by Knxwledge’s pulsing beat that draws on ’70s funk. The entire album flows together with Knxwledge’s seamless transitions, that are sandwiched between the two minute long skits and soul-infused dance tracks like “Suede”. Paak and Knx revel in their success, letting loose in these party anthems.
The album closes on a humorous mood with a skit featuring one of Paak’s various women cussing him out. This would actually be my main critique of the album – women aren’t always portrayed in a great light in R&B, but a third of the songs on the album completely objectify them. Paak croons sweetly about how he tries to be faithful on “What More Can I Say”, but even his smooth voice can’t mask the blatant sexism he incorporates into all of his lyrics. The lyrical content is repetitive and uncomplicated, and I expect more out of Paak.
The album fills a musical void in hip hop with its fresh new take on soul. The fluidity of Yes Lawd! lends itself to easy listening, but there are some definite bangers to dance to with friends. All of the potential energy that the two had been biding before ‘making it’ is finally released on “Yes Lawd!”: an exclamation of joy, a sigh of relief, but also a moment of pure gratitude.
Listen to Yes Lawd! here: