West-coast duo NxWorries’ second collaborative project, Yes Lawd!, feels very much like a jazzy and soulful spiritual successor to Stones Throw Records’ past collaborations, such as Madvillainy and Champion Sound. The album follows a momentous year by singer-songwriter and multi faceted vocalist, Anderson .Paak. In 2016, he released his sophomore album, Malibu, to critical acclaim and collaborated with production juggernauts such as Kaytranada and Dr. Dre. Yes Lawd! marries .Paak’s raspy, passionate vocals with producer Knxwledge’s textured and jazzy production to create a 19-track album filled with raunchy vocals and rhythmic rapport.
.Paak’s strengths lie in his sultry and intimate vocal delivery and lyricism. His last album Malibu, combined funk, soul, and R&B to create one of the best albums of the year. This new project features much of the same from .Paak as he glides through the instrumentals, singing about topics ranging from love and sex to his rise in through the music industry ranks. Tracks such as “Lyk Dis” and “Link Up” feature silky vocal harmonies and funky drum loops, creating short sensuous vignettes.
Although .Paak’s vocals are impeccable on their own, the production throughout the album is the real showpiece of this project. Knxwledge’s production complements .Paak with dusty soul samples on songs like “Suede” to visceral string orchestration in “What More Can I Say.” His use of vocal snippets and jazz samples throughout is reminiscent of former Stones Throw alums Madlib and J Dilla. As sweet and pretty as the album feels sounds, lyrically Yes Lawd! is at times bitter and direct—for example, .Paak tells his girl to “get her shit together” in “Can’t Stop,” through the inclusion of a vocal sample from the animated comedy Rick and Morty.
However, the album’s tracks lack cohesiveness, as they sometimes feel disjointed from one another sonically. In an EP, this loose structure of different sounds and experiments may be acceptable, but is less polished for a full length album. Nonetheless, NxWorries managed to put out a more than worthy successor to their debut project.
If anything, Yes Lawd! is perhaps the most aptly named album of 2016. The album features a duo working at the peak of their powers with strong chemistry. Listeners in search of smooth, jazzy beats with a feel-good vibe will be pleasantly surprised, and those looking for soulful lead vocals can find solace in .Paak’s performances throughout. If .Paak in Malibu was like a superhero still new to his powers, Yes Lawd! feels very much like he has full control of his abilities and strengths, ready to fight crime with Knxwledge, his newfound side-kick.
Favourite Song: Lyk Dis
Sounds Like: Kaytranada, Mndsgn, Blu and Exile