By Kieffer Wilson, Contributor
[Stones Throw; 2016]
Key Tracks: “Get Bigger / Do U Luv,” “Scared Money,” “Starlite”
Self-respect erupts from the beginning of NxWorries‘ first album; “They say, ‘How did you do it?’ / Nothing but the ambition,” proclaims Anderson .Paak on top of drums, guitar and prideful trumpets composed by Knxwledge. NxWorries exists solely because of the passion that two people had for their craft. From their youth, both singer Anderson .Paak and producer Knxwledge spent their time creating sounds in church. Now, they are becoming known as some of the most talented musicians in their areas. Knxwledge, who has been releasing a minimum of three albums a year for over half a decade, recently produced tracks with artists such as Action Bronson, Omarion and Kendrick Lamar. .Paak’s current status isn’t any lesser, working on Dr. Dre’s last LP, Compton, and releasing his most critically acclaimed album yet, Malibu, earlier this year.
.Paak and Knxwledge have shown that they can make us move with their individual sounds, but together they create something completely different. Late last year they released their first EP Link Up & Suede, with viral-birthing singles and catchy interludes, making listeners optimistic about where the two would go in the future.Yes Lawd!, their debut album, makes Link Up & Suede look like they were only warming up.
.Paak belts out and croons notes over Knxwledge’s beats to create a sound that separates the album from their solo projects. “Get Bigger / Do U Luv” digs into .Paak’s storytelling skills that he has shown in his past songs such as “Milk ’n’ Honey” and “The Season / Carry Me” with a romanticized spin. Meanwhile, other songs such as “Sidepiece” and “What More Can I Say” showcase the group’s special flavor of traditional soul: cut up and seasoned.
Those coming to Yes Lawd! hoping for singular songs that they can groove to as the last EP provided may be disappointed. The neo-soul album is an experience that flows from song to song without interruption. Tracks one through six, despite each song having its own feeling, could easily be labeled as a medley rather than separate songs. However, due to this format, when popular singles from the last release come on they feel tonally different from the rest of the album.
Yes Lawd! is an album that showcases how a group can ascend its separate ingredients to become brand new. .Paak’s lyrics convey themes of decision, grief, lust and pride that are brought together with Knxwlege’s beats to create a sound unique to the album. There are some disconnects between the fluidity of tracks and the past singles, but all of the music is still impossible to stop bumping to nonetheless. While .Paak and Knxwledge still have solo work to focus on, Yes Lawd! shows that there should only be excitement when thinking about what either of them will release next.