REVIEW: NxWorries' Yes Lawd!

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Sean McCarthy

Yes Lawd!: The perfect combination of the styles of two of the years breakout stars.

Anderson .Paak broke out on Dr. Dre‰’s 2015 album Compton, contributing to six of the albums 16 tracks. Producer Knxwledge had been grinding away for years for LA based Stones Throw Records, releasing over 60 beat tapes on Bandcamp before gaining national exposure with the beat for “Momma‰” on Kendrick Lamar‰’s To Pimp a Butterfly. Both capitalized on their new found fame by quickly releasing albums, .Paak with 2016‰’s Malibu and Knxwledge with Hud Dreems in May 2015. In February 2015, the two collaborated on “Suede‰Û, a single released on Stones Throw. Later that year they released an EP, officially releasing “Suede‰” along with another collaborative track “Link Up‰” along with a remix of .Paak‰’s song “Drugs‰” and 3 new instrumental cuts.

Yes Lawd! continues the winning streak for .Paak and Knxwledge, showcasing both of their styles over 50 minutes of deep grooves and soulful singing. Starting from “Livvin‰Û, a euphoric opener with Paak singing “Let‰’s get it/There‰’s no fear‰” over soaring trumpets and background vocals. Many tracks follow this formula, a somewhat simplistic beat enhanced with layers of background vocals and Paak singing on top. Knxwledge sticks to his guns throughout the project, flipping bass heavy soul samples and utilizing off-beat percussion rhythms, but slows down the tempo down just enough to give them an R&B rather than Hip-Hop feel. On album highlight “Kutless,” he even experiments with changing tempos, slowing down the beat momentarily to to keep the listener’s attention, while not distracting from Paak‰’s lyrics. On occasion the beats become repetitive, specifically on the track “H.A.N.‰” and “Scared Money‰Û, but many songs end far before they overstay their welcome.

Paak‰’s lyrics don‰’t break any new ground on the project, relying primarily on the well-worn R&B topics of women and sex, and many of have described Yes Lawd! as a “player album‰Û. Songs that diverge from these topics, such as “Get Bigger / Do U Luv‰Û, which discusses his struggles finding himself as an artist, offer a welcome change from the at times monotonous subject matter. Aside from the lyrics, Paak‰’s vocals work incredible well with the warm, soulful production. He raps far less often on this offering than on “Malibu‰Û, unexpected given Knxwledge‰’s experience producing hip-hop beats, but his unique sing-rap style works throughout the project.

Despite containing 19 songs, the album avoids any major missteps in quality control. The concept for “H.A.N‰Û, while entertaining on first listen, is tiresome after repeated play throughs, and some songs such as “Khadijah‰” and “Lyk Dis‰” are good enough to warrant longer play times, but these are minor issues in the bigger picture. The only major issue, which comes with songs that often fail to reach 3:00, is that at times the album feels underdeveloped and unfocused, never allowing the listener to really get into and enjoy each track. Hailed as the R&B Madvillainy, Yes Lawd! fails to reach the same heights as Madlib and MF Doom‰’s collaborative masterpiece, but does deliver one of the years most cohesive and enjoyable R&B albums.

RIYL: Madlib, Kendrick Lamar, 70‰’s style R&B