The name is ironic because for most of this year, since the very first second I heard “Suede,” that’s exactly what I did - worry.
Kanye's non-existant Swish, the long-awaited return of Isaiah Rashad, Frank Ocean’s mysterious project that he's not going to release or even really discuss ever - all took a back seat to the musical baby in the oven from Nxwledge and Anderson .Paak.
When would we get more? What would it sound like? When would we get more? How many songs would it be? When would we get more?
With each listen, "Suede" took me higher and higher. I was a slave to the beat, to Anderson’s off-color, raunchy charisma, because it made me feel so free. I’m a little embarrassed at how many times I've listened to this tune but it’s yet to lose that freshness. Unfortunately, this means that every time the three minute epic journey ends, I’m left with the same void. All I want is more.
After months of wondering and waiting, months of wearing out the replay button, months of scraping together bits of both to get my fix, on Friday, the moment finally came. NxWorries finally dropped Link Up & Suede - EP. Yes Lawd! I dove in expecting a long night of amazing, non-stop, spliff-filled action, but before I could even blink or wrap my head around the fact that I was finally listening to NxWorries in full, the EP ended.
This wasn’t the epic, double-disc musical journey I had pictured in my head. Shit, it’s only six songs, half of which have a run-time of under a minute thirty. I enjoyed it, but I felt like there was still a void in my heart. As with "Suede," I was expecting to be immediately blown away but that wasn't the case. My first couple listens had more to do with what this project wasn’t and it prevented me from seeing what it was. The more I focused on what I had and stopped obsessing over what I didn’t, the reasons I fell on love with "Suede" and the magic that is NxWorries surfaced. Now, I’m at peace with this project, but I’ll admit, at first I was confused and that confusion has me worried about others giving up on it too early. It may not be what I was expecting, but it's exactly what I needed.
I do this shit for a living, I get paid to nerd out about Anderson .Paak’s Venice or talk to Knxweldge about his To Pimp a Butterfly placement. I’ve spent too much time drowning in Knxwledge’s Bandcamp page, too many hours dancing stupidly to Venice, to be fooled. At the same time I fear that the average person who stumbles across the album on their Twitter feed or a late night YouTube search might not give this project the time and energy it deserves; it’s so cool, you almost can’t notice it initially. My concern is no longer when NxWorries will finally give me a project, it's whether that project getting will get its just due.
This EP is so laid-back it almost forces you to go on auto-pilot, to just kick back and listen, but underneath the clouds of smoke and the Gucci frames, there’s real artistry here. Anderson is my favorite artist making music, but Knxwledge is the engine of this album. The way he constructs his sonic landscapes is unlike anyone else. The samples are so creative, so unique that they often go unheard or unnoticed. It took him flipping two songs off Venice, my most listened-to album of the year, for me to really get it. On “Datwhip” and “Droogs,” Knxwledge chops up two choice cuts - "I Miss That Whip” and “Drugs” - and completely transforms them. I'd heard both a million trillion times and barely recognized them in new form. He doesn't just take a drum kick or a three second loop, he takes a whole song and reimagines it, adding skittish drum kicks, screwed vocals, chops and an overall cloudy atmosphere. I would love to be able to hear music like he does. I can't imagine the process of taking something so clean like “I Miss That Whip” and channeling it into “Datwhip” or something so wild and trappy like “Drugs” into a bouncing “Droogs.”
I love Anderson .Paak, he’s still my favorite artist, but the takeaway from The Link Up & Suede - EP is less about how amazing he is, which we'll hopefully be able to talk about when his Malibu album drops. This EP is about celebrating Knxwledge in all his glory. This is only a six song effort, but it’s what’s in those six songs, that really matters.
It's kind of scary to admit a project, one you looked forward to for the entire year, wasn't what you expected, but sometimes the best things are the ones you never knew you needed. It's my hope that through admitting this, it might help turn someone from a passive listener into an active fan. For me, reviews are about getting that person on the fence to really care about the project. So do you care now?
Then again, if you hear "Suede" and aren't lifted to the heavens, there might not be much hope for you. Yes Lawd!
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is College Dropout but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]