NxWorries’ Unity Works in Their Favor on ‘Yes Lawd!’
After bumrushing hip-hop with his contributions to Dr. Dre's Compton album in 2015, then wowing the naysayers with the progressive soul session that was his own album, Malibu, earlier this year, Anderson .Paak has positioned himself as the centerpiece of a modern-day renaissance in Black music. This time, the 2016 XXL Freshman looks to merge the two genres on, Yes Lawd!, his latest release as one-half of the duo, NxWorries.
Comprised of .Paak and Los Angeles-based producer Knxwledge, who has promulgated his expertise as a boardsman with dozens of releases via Bandcamp and a placement on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, Nx Worries looks to pick up where they left off on their 2015 EP, Link Up & Suede, a glorified sampler platter that gave fans a taste test of their dusty grooves.
"I'm living/So surviving, three spares, 100K on the mileage/Let's get it/In the city of the flawless women, my god, look at all of these bitches," .Paak belts out on "Livvin," the first shot fired on Yes Lawd! Powered by crashing cymbals and glorious horns, "Livvin" matches Knxwledge's rich production with .Paak's distinct rasp and wails, making for a perfect marriage.
"Best Ones" finds the left coast producer professing his adulation for the most loyal stallion in his stable of thoroughbreds, albeit while owning his own shortcomings as a companion. Lyrics like "You love me like you know I could be leaving in a moment's notice/You telling me to stay until the morning/You know a nigga homeless" are charming but with a dose of crassness that gives them added punch and encapsulates the disposition of a jackass who's found himself smitten.
Temptation and matters of the heart take center stage on "What More Can I Say," with Anderson .Paak lamenting the conflict his career as a traveling recording artist creates with his desire to be faithful to his relationship. "I keep tryna tell ya, you can't keep me on a leash/No matter how hard you train me/I'll do what I want in the end, and you can't disagree/But they make it so hard to be faithful/They make it so hard on me," .Paak croons. The talented hybrid pleads his case over dreary violins and vintage percussion.
One of the more exhilarating offerings on Yes Lawd! is "Get Bigger / Do U Luv," a smokey, mid-tempo number that finds the artist former known as Breezy Lovejoy getting autobiographical with the flow. Recalling his departure from home into the world as a 17-year-old, .Paak spouts, "In the fall gotta get it with my brother Elhaj/Shopping work, bagging groceries, pushin' them carts/I was grateful to be working but say my back is hurtin'/I don't think it's the purpose, no this can't be the call" while accounting for the trials and tribulations he's encountered in the interim, from dead end jobs to infidelity.
Knxwledge serves a synth heavy track with "Scared Money," a pleasant ditty on which .Paak's vocal performance and songwriting subtly channels that of the late great Prince. Lyrics like "My time ain't long, and it sure ain't free/If you gonna move it on, do it now, put that loving on me/Scared money don't make none, baby, talk is cheap/If you gonna move it on, do it now, put that loving on me" are simple, yet masterfully delivered in a take it or leave it manner that's sharp enough to cut through the ego of the most laissez-faire companion.
The ultimate ladies man that he is, .Paak admits to having more than a few lovers hanging in the wings, but vows to turn in his player's card and give up his "Sidepiece" for that special one on this guitar-laden offering. Despite admitting, "It's hard for me to keep the promise ring when I head out on tour/One won't do and two is not enough for me, no," lines like "These days, my friends and foes are tricking off on fancy anniversary vacays/Is it my time? Or am I too late?" point to a man that sees the writing on the wall and is ready to eschew the bachelor lifestyle.
For those listeners just jumping on the NxWorries bandwagon, the duo provide a refresher course on Yes Lawd!, tacking "Link Up" and "Suede" from their first effort onto this LP, both of which fit snugly into the tracklist and further bolster its appeal. Yes Lawd! ends off literally how Link Up & Suede begins, by using the intro track of the latter to serve as the outro for the former, the only twist being additional vocals, courtesy of .Paak, an appropriate bookend to the dynamic duo's musical festivities.
Collaborative projects between a producer and an artist can be hit or miss, but Knxwledge and Anderson .Paak manage to hit on all cylinders with their first full-length outing. Over the course of the album's 19 tracks, the topics of love, lust, heartbreak and desire are broached and fleshed out over the producer's dusty drum loops and live instrumentation, all tied together by the singer's raspy vocals and innate showmanship.
While there's no telling when these two will link up again or if their future albums will follow their track record of keeping things smooth as suede, one thing's for sure: Yes Lawd! is one of the more satisfying efforts of the year thus far.
See Behind-the-Scenes Photos of Anderson .Paak at 2016 XXL Freshman Class Cover Shoot