NxWorries [Anderson .Paak & Knxwledge] - Yes Lawd!
Historians may judge 2016 as an annus horribilis, but you won’t find a trace of misery on the ever-smiling face of Anderson .Paak. Enjoying a long-awaited billboard year in a career of false starts, it appears that the 30-year-old Californian can now do no wrong: he’ll struggle to pinpoint just one highlight, given that he’s got the release of a critically-acclaimed sophomore album (Malibu), signing to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label, and popping up with a guest vocal on tracks by the likes of Chance The Rapper, ScHoolboy Q and Mac Miller to choose from.
Despite his rapid rise, .Paak still hasn’t forgotten his roots. New release Yes Lawd! sees the artist reignite his partnership with the emerging Philadelphian producer Knxwledge (who was behind Kendrick Lamar’s track Momma) as NxWorries, which comes after the duo teamed up for the first time on last year’s excellent Link Up & Suede EP.
The two eponymous tracks which formed that teaser EP feature on the duo’s debut album (joyously named after .Paak’s euphoric catchphrase), and it is a credit to NxWorries’ clear creative chemistry that Yes Lawd! easily stands up to their hype. It’s an observation that’s evident from the minute that smile-evoking opener Livvin assuredly announces itself; horns and rolling drums coming off like a classic Madlib instrumental.
Confidence oozes throughout Yes Lawd!: Get Bigger is an autobiographical cut driven by .Paak’s soulful reminiscing (much like he does on Malibu’s Carry Me), while the climbing bass on Khadija drives an inescapable funk that showcases Knxwledge’s obvious production talents. Suede, meanwhile, really is as .Paak cooly announces: “smooth as a motherfucker”. The duo are at their best, though, when they get straight to the point – a mentality that’s tricky to maintain when your debut album consists of 19 tracks. Concentration levels aren’t particularly aided by the ample dialogue samples or the occasionally-inane skits, either, as is the case on the ending of H.A.N.
These are minor complaints, though: Yes Lawd! more than delivers on the promise NxWorries gave us last year, and most definitely continues .Paak’s 2016 winning streak when it comes to his musical output. And in a year that’s taken so much from us while giving so little in return, Yes Lawd! reminds us of the immortal phrase that could easily sum up NxWorries’ ethos: don’t worry, be happy.