YES LAWD! by NxWorries
FAVORITE TRACKS: “Wngs” “Get Bigger / Do U Luv” “H.A.N.” “Suede” “Fkku”
Anderson .Paak’s unique soul fusion has been blooming since 2014’s critical success, VENICE. Since then, he’s landed a spot on the cover of XXL and worked with Kendrick Lamar. More importantly, he’s been releasing music that is more soulful than anything else currently being released in hip hop. Since getting a chance in the spotlight, .Paak has taken the opportunity to release one of this year’s standout hip hop albums, the new YES LAWD!, a collaborative effort with enigmatic instrumental musician Knxwledge. The laid back, jazzy vibes of Knxwledge’s instrumental effort serves as the perfect canvas for .Paak’s hymns. As NxWorries, the duo comes together on YES LAWD! to produce vocal and musical artistry with balance and grace that will resonate in the throat of hip hop for years to come.
Though .Paak has proven himself to be a talented artist, the project as a whole is only enriched and made complete by the production of Knxwledge, who clearly knows how to craft intricate beats that also bring out the best in Anderson. YES LAWD! stands as an impressive piece of work, a rare occurrence of hip hop musical synergy that really works. Knxwledge has had similar, memorable collaborations with Earl Sweatshirt, and .Paak has made standout appearances, including a feature on Mac Miller’s new album. Together, they make YES LAWD! a fully envisioned and brilliantly executed full length album.
.Paak introduces himself on “Livvin,” setting a tone of uplifting comfort and soul that feels like church, but less formal, and surely less religious. Knxlwdge’s production is smooth, and serves as the perfect complement to .Paak’s rich voice. It’s a voice that sings of sweet love, liquor, and nice asses on “Wngs” with more soulful class than any other voice in hip hop ever has (R. Kelly excluded). His lyricism is consistently solid throughout the album as well, and Anderson .Paak’s natural musical talent shines. Prior rap releases of the year with gospel and soul influence, including Kanye’s TLOP and Chance’s COLORING BOOK, opt for more industrial and vibrant feels respectively, while YES LAWD! feels unmistakably intimate, with imperfect human warmth.
Some criticize Knxwledge’s production for being flat, but I believe it serves as the perfect counterpoint to .Paak’s vocals. In the same aspect that the nicest cameras shoot the flattest colors in order to then pull the most dramatic colors out in post production, Knxwledge’s understated beats serve their purpose well here. Modern hip hop is commonly bass heavy with catchy beats, but Knxwledge offers something that pulls greatness out in Anderson .Paak, hitting a very unique and special tone.
YES LAWD! moves fast; the whole project is 48 minutes, spread over 20 (if you count the double sided “Get Bigger / Do U Luv”) songs. Even with so many cuts, each track is distinct enough to ensure a few personal favorites. From the proverbial street knowledge throughout “Suede,” to the Rick and Morty sample on the end of “Can’t Stop,” there’s a lot to love. Production ranges from silky smooth samples and punchy drum loops to more experimental, soft percussion and hi-hat driven rhythms. Even so, the whole album flows from each fully conceptualized tracks to the next, culminating in a project with character and depth.
NxWorries is a duo that feels energetic and lively, but mature and wise beyond their years. In a world of the Lil Yachtys and Lil Uzis that populate Twitter feeds and top festivals, it’s easy to lose sight of the soul and jazz that radiates around the heart of hip hop. YES LAWD! is not the album hip hop asked for, but it’s the album hip hop needs. That is, if you need a breath from the superficiality that’s been ingrained upon the surface of hip hop culture since the origin of beef. YES LAWD! should satisfy your cravings. In fact, if these two never collaborated again, I would still be content with just listening to this record for the rest of my life.