Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge, the singer/producer duo that took the internet by storm when they decided to come together as NxWorries, are a dream team born in the underground, but the vintage and soulful sounds they were able to produce took them from the blogosphere to the studio with Dr. Dre. If NxWorries was able to do that with just one song, imagine what could be possible if an entire album came to fruition?
After the critically acclaimed Malibu, I don’t think anyone expected NxWorries to release an album in 2016, but this year has been full of surprises. The album’s announcement was met with wide eyes and drooling mouths, ears couldn’t wait to be wrapped in the blanket of soul that was to come. With only two months remaining in 2016, NxWorries were looked at as one of the last candidates that could snatch the Album of the Year trophy.
When you have someone gifted as Anderson, alongside a beat magician like Knxwledge, it's nearly impossible for the music to be in disarray. Their union is one that’s rare, a true fusion of two styles that compliment each other like peanut butter and jelly. The challenge they face is raising the bar above the Suede & Link Up EP, their short but delicious appetizer. They’re also indirectly facing off against Malibu, an album that exceeded all expectations. It’s exciting going into a project knowing the artists are aware that an impressive body of work is expected of them. I can’t imagine Anderson and Knxwledge doing anything that wouldn’t be deemed outstanding. This is a project that the fans wanted, something that was asked for, and such a gift couldn’t be done sloppily.
Following the traditional 1-Listen review rules, I must listen to the album from start to finish without stopping, editing, rewinding, or fast-forwarding. Everything I write will be based on my gut reaction. There’s nothing left to do but press play, and let out a joyous, “Yes Lawd!”
Knxwledge always has the best skits interlooped into his beat. I don't recall where this is from but it sounds like some hustler flick. This beat feels like it came from a dusty basement. The drums are kicking hard. This is the sound I want from him, the sound he has made a name for himself producing. You can almost smell the dust coming off the beat. This is music for the crate diggers.
Soulful beginning. Such warmth flowing off the cymbals, and drums. Anderson’s voice along with some soulful backup hums. “In the city of flawless women” haha. If this song had a color it would be a sunny Sunday afternoon. If there was a party in heaven this would be the song that would get all the angels to raise the roof. It’s a short track, but man is this pleasant. The song ends with a skit, another Knxwledge signature if you’re familiar with his production. Livin' sound like the kind of life I'm trying to live.
My ears are in audio heaven. Anderson is singing about a woman, and he sounds as if he’s cozy, easygoing. The kind of cozy that comes with having too much whiskey. He’s an illustrator, the picture that he paints is like an oil pastel. A sexy oil pastel. This song is short, it’s about to end, please don’t end. The way he confesses his wants and yearning for this woman is a very real emotion. This is has been, by far, the best minute of my Friday so far.
4. "Best Ones"
I wish the album would slow down just a bit. The songs are going by like I'm flipping through the T.V. trying to find a show to watch. I feel like the songs are too short, but they’re also meant to leave you craving more. A lot of passion in Anderson’s voice. I’m interested in what this sample is. I wonder what the sample clearance budget was for this album? Very few artists are bringing this much soul to the singing/rapping arena. Anderson is a rare talent that we are blessed to have bless our ears. This song is the “Best I Ever Had” of 2016. Such audio honey should have bees buzzing in the background. Another skit.
5. "What More Can I Say"
I don’t think anyone will ever top Jay Z’s “What More Can I Say,” but I'll give Anderson second place. Oh man, this is elegant—it’s like looking at the most beautiful goddess in a ball gown and then telling her that you have commitment issues. Knxwledge is a magician, an alchemist, a deity with golden ears. I'm playing this song at my wedding and in divorce court.This might be an early favorite. The way Anderson sings about relationships, women, and intimacy, is also refreshing outside of all the trap R&B.
Anderson and Frank Ocean are two singers that sing about cars as if they’re women. Not just any women, but with the sweetness of singing about a high school sweetheart or a college mistress. Whenever they have songs about whips you know it’s going to be magic to the ear drums. This is another short song, very simple, but it sounds like driving very slowly down a highway not plagued by traffic.
7. "Lyke Dis"
The first single. It’s been in nonstop rotation since it’s release. This is another song where Anderson’s songwriting shows he can tackle women and intimacy unlike any of his contemporaries. It’s sexual, but maybe it’s due to the soulful production that it doesn’t feel dirty. The song is about morning sex, but it also feels like church in the morning. You rarely find a song in today’s age that makes you feel both holy and horny. I wouldn’t mind if Chance and Knxweldge cooked something up.
8. "Can't Stop"
There has to be a Diddy reference in this somewhere. I think this one is just an instrumental. There’s a voice, wait the beat just switched, and holy holy holy is this filling my ears with pure gold. It’s slow, a vocal sample that’s been manipulated but it sounds familiar. Another random skit was thrown in. I think it's from Rick and Morty.
9. "Get Biger/Do U Luv"
The second single, but I didn’t have much time to give this one an ear when it was released. Rapping Anderson. He has a lot of verses where he’s reminiscing, he’s definitely someone who spends a lot of time thinking about the past. The first verse is about working a day job and wanting to pursue making music full time. He quits at the end. Phonte would not approve. Anderson is an underrated rapper, I think his dual talent at times overshadows that he has one of the smoothest deliveries. He doesn’t try to sound like the kids, there’s definitely a distinguished style to Anderson’s rhyming. This is one of the songs you just sink into, let the beat and storytelling take you away. Beat switch. I love the background vocals used on the tape. So many warm tone and textures. It’s oh-so-heavenly.
Why aren't Kanye and Knxwledge in the same room? Is this song about Queen Latifah's Living Single character? “Cops want to see a nigga dead.” Another rap verse. Today wasn't a good day for Anderson. You can feel the stress in his voice. This beat has such a hip-hop feel. A little less soulful and a bit more grit than the past records. Wouldn’t mind if a seasoned 90’s emcee got some bars off.
I haven’t heard a song yet that I wouldn’t want to revisit more than a few times. It’s like within each song is something worth returning to. Even the skits and interludes. Anderson made a song for all the hoe ass niggas. This is a record you would expect from a rapper, but since he’s singing it, there’s something even more hilarious about the subject. “H.A.N.” seems more like a skit, or an interlude. We need more albums where humor is executed well without throwing off the vibe.
12. "Scared Money"
Oh man this is some throwback, '70s/'80s music right here. Again, Knxwledge has an ear that is solid gold. This is familiar, I know this sample, it’s just escaping me at the moment and this will drive me crazy. This definitely sounds like something Curren$y would float across. There's something very California about this song. I would have been happy if it ended up on Malibu. Another one as DJ Khaled would say.
This is still one of my favorite songs from last year and the song that really jumpstarted the NxWorries wave. There are few beats I would deem perfect, but every time I hear “Suede” perfection is the first word that comes to mind. Anderson’s rapping is like watching a master roller skater zoom across the skate floor with poise and grace. Shoutout to all the grit cook, spliff rolling girls in the world. I predict this will be in the hall of fame of classic NxWorries songs in years to come.
Sounds like a soul R&B sample is being used. Such a beautiful beat I would put it in the running for Miss America. Storytelling Anderson. I wonder how many of his stories are fictional and what he actually has lived. It’s the details of his story that are just so vivid. They say great writers tend to take a little bit of reality and bend it just enough where it sits between fact and fiction. This is great. This sounds like love at first heartache. A love song for your late twenties after you lost someone you’ll never forget. Just give Anderson all the trophies.
The diversity in Anderson’s style is really astounding. This is spectacular. I thought the song would be about his side piece, but it’s actually about giving up his woman on the side. This is really some vintage, old-school soul music. Especially coming off “Starlite” this is beautiful. What makes NxWorries work is how the production just sits in the back and gives Anderson’s voice the room it needs to truly captivate. There’s never a power struggle between the two. It’s almost like two painters collaborating on a single canvas. Another smooth outro.
I hope there’s a baby boy reference somewhere in here. There's another skit that transitioned into Anderson singing about his woman friend Jodi. I love the guitar strumming and the hi-hats dancing in the background. And that bassline, man, why is this so short!
17. "Link Up"
The other single from the NxWorries EP. I think this has been the most distinguished dance record on the album thus far. Malibu was full of up-tempo dance numbers, but even though there are plenty of songs that have that groove, they didn’t really inspire me to get up in boogie like “Link Up.” If we lived in an era where there was more disco and less dabs this song would be burning up clubs. It’s just one of those songs that your bones can’t help but move to once it comes on. Cut a rug music.
18. "Another Time"
I think this was originally the beat that plays during the intro of the Suede and Link Up EP. Anderson singing over it takes it to the next level. The elegance is like hearing wind chimes in heaven. When I die bury me in this song. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. Not a thing.
Haha, a hilarious skit and Anderson doing soulful hums. This is one project where you’ll actually find yourself chuckling to the skits that have been stitched into the records. Anderson singing, a soft tone, get your baby back music. One more beat switch, some soft chords playing, but nothing more.
Yes Lawd! is an ultra light beam of soul for your ears. It’s by far the most soul-driven album that I’ve heard all year. It’s cohesive, perhaps a bit too much, but if this is a style you enjoy it is heaven. Not only do you have an album full of great singing and rapping, but hunting down the samples will be its own adventure that is guaranteed to introduce even more impressive music. I think that’s what I miss about the soul sample Kanye era—within one song there was something else to explore, a piece of the past that was waiting to be discovered. Knxwledge, a well-known digger, was deep in the crates for this album.
Is the album better than Malibu? It’s hard to say. Anderson brought a different feeling with Yes Lawd!, but with the same incredible execution. His talent is one that is simply undeniable. There’s a part of me that wants to see him expand his subject palette, but I also just enjoy hearing the various narratives that illustrate his relationship with women. He knows how to make the stories captivating and relatable. There's a quality to his music that makes him one of the best songwriters on the rise. Yes Lawd! isn’t a disappointment, it is everything but.
NxWorries, bringing the soul back to modern music.
By Yoh, aka Soulful Yoh, aka @Yoh31.
Photo Credit: Stones Throw