Review: NxWorries - 'Yes Lawd!'
NxWorries (pronounced No Worries) is a collaboration between New Jersey and Philadelphia-raised record producer Knxwledge and Californian recording artist Anderson .Paak.
After the release of their debut EP, 'Link Up & Suede' late last year, the musicians have come together to drop their debut studio album, 'Yes Lawd!'
‘Yes Lawd!’ is drenched in a cool, calm and collected vibe - it’s throughly unruffled.
While record producer Knxwledge’s hip-hop/soul concoctions sound contemporary and present day throughout the first half of the record, the LP’s second half turns intently towards the past for musical inspiration.
Similarly, Paak animates his partner’s layered instrumentals confidently during the LP’s front end, but as 'Yes Lawd!' heads towards its finish the singer comes across enamoured and dreamy.
On tracks like ‘Another Time’, Paak’s vocals impact as soon as they hit the speakers. The 30-year-old is definitely in possession of something special, something long-lasting.
His unique singing - and to a lesser extent his unique rapping - can’t help but momentarily steal focus from Knxwledge’s rich, ornate beatwork.
Paak rarely uses his rap skills to communicate grit. Generally, his bars are perceptive, contemplative - and a little bit cosmic.
Paak’s best contributions bring together tradition and the unknown, he can be retro and progressive at the same time. On top of that, he instantly brings to mind the artists that came before him who had the same effect.
Knxwledge’s production work continuously demonstrates respect and reverence for the classic soul record.
If Knxwledge’s output wasn’t so deft, ‘Yes Lawd!’ may have suffered from an over-reliance on vintage black music for inspiration, direction and execution - the record’s quality probably would’ve levelled off as a result.
Luckily, as ‘Yes Lawd!’ emulates music’s by-gone masterpieces, it proudly, cleanly and very skilfully sits outside-the-box.
Also, thanks to the pair’s love of hip-hop, the tracklist steers clear of sounding high-brow.
In the absence of Paak’s N-bombs and West Coast swagger, or Knxwledge’s low-riding, old-skool hip-hop basslines, the record would quickly become inaccessible for more casual listeners.
With most of the songs on ’Yes Lawd!’ clocking in at approximately two-and-a-half minutes, many impact as interludes or moments.
There will certainly be more than a few listeners who wish the blues setup of ‘Jodi’ lasted longer.
Some of the album’s eccentric touches sound like they were included simply for the sake of being different. The project’s blissed-out randomness and idiosyncratic oddities may evoke an eye-roll or two.
The playlist’s onslaught of ideas and concept changes sometimes enter Unneeded territory.
Still for all that, ‘Yes Lawd!’ fuses hip-hop, soul, R&B and gospel in a way that’s more appealing than anything else released this year.
Romance is a hot topic for Paak as he flits between the temptation to play the field on ‘What More Can I Say’ and proving his commitment to his chosen one on ‘Wngs’ and ‘Best One’.
Intensely sexual and blunt lyrics from Paak are reinforced by a sultry, grooving instrumental from Knxwledge on the hot and sweaty ‘Lyk Dis’.
Placed moments before twenty-second, harmony-drenched interlude ‘Do U Luv’, highlight tune ’Get Bigger’ sees Knxwledge place a memorably light, tuneful loop over sedated hip-hop soul beats.
‘H.A.N’ (which stands for H* A*s Ni**as) is a passive-aggressive, hilarious dose of leisurely hip-hop.
Paak spends most of it scolding unnamed lames and attempting to banish them from his life. In the song’s background they’re humorously heard asking him, “Where can I send you some beats? What’s your email? C’mon bro”.
While ’Scared Money’ is a more obvious homage to Eighties R&B, Paak’s rap abilities take centerstage on ‘Starlite’ and ’Suede’.
The latter features the singer namedropping Barry White, Marvin Gaye and American R&B, soul and funk outfit Bloodstone.
‘Sidepiece’ is guided by pristine backing vocals over which Paak declares undying devotion. The cut then suddenly evolves into a eerily corrupted, chopped and screwed vocal.
Over deep, juddering R&B beats and immaculate, soothing soul harmonies, Paak flaunts his showmanship to draw attention from a lady on ‘Link Up’.
Set upon a tender Gospel backing, ‘Fkku’ is a patchwork of inventiveness - it outlandishly explores contrasting feelings of love and hate within a relationship.
While an oddly warped, speaking voice expresses it’s distain towards an unspecified foe, a choir group delivers a sentimental sermon on affection in the background - it almost sounds accidental.