On Yes Lawd!, Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge Have No Worries

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If I was Anderson .Paak or Knxwledge, I wouldn’t be able to stop saying Yes Lawd! either. Together, they form Nxworries, an emergent tandem unlike any in music today. With his versatility, .Paak blends a variety of styles into a sound that can’t be confined to a single genre. Knxwledge is just as unique. The 29-year old born as Glen Boothe, exploits 70’s soul and R&B as he hones in on vintage sound to create nostalgic beats. On Nxworries debut full-length album, Yes Lawd! the unique abilities of the two artists are the foundation of the project. Knxwledge’s simple vintage sound lends the ideal canvas for Anderson .Paak to express himself. The perils and perks of .Paak’s seesaw path to triumph are painted in his patented tender tone. This seamless combination constructs Yes Lawd! into a mesmerizing sonic experience that reflects the brilliant prowess of the Nxworries duo.

The artistry of Kxnwledge’s and Anderson .Paak was inspired from their unique beginnings. Knxwledge’s old soul sound was developed when he moved to a Los Angeles home around the block from Amoeba Records. In a 2013 interview with Xlr8r, he described his early creative process. “I wake up, go to Amoeba, see what’s in front, see if they get any new $.50 acapellas of anything trill…Then it’s just back [home], looping [record samples] while I’m chopping stuff on my livid controller.” Boothe’s beat making moniker, Knxwledge makes perfect sense as it reflects his mastery of old-school funk, Hip-Hop, and R&B.

Anderson .Paak’s eclectic sound was acquired at a young age. At 12, he learned the ways of gospel-soul when he began playing drums at his local church. .Paak’s alternative punk feel was found during his parent’s divorce. In an interview with L.A. Weekly, he describes this time. “After my parents went down, straight away from that I wanted to find other thing…That’s when I started to listening to more punk and Beatles and alternative rock bands. I got to delve out and get weird a little bit.” The pain you here in .Paak’s voice emerged as agony remained present in his life. After his mom lost her job, Anderson became homeless. His life was made easier after he met his wife and had a son. Love became the foundation of .Paak’s music as it helped rescue him from destitute.

On Yes Lawd!, the Nxworries combo build off each other’s strengths to form a materialization of their unique abilities. With 19 tracks clocking in at just 48 minutes, the project is filled with tantalizing short cuts. Although this leaves the album with a cohesive mainstream appeal, it allows Knxwledge to stay true to his technique. His work typically includes bite-size songs that function to show off his versatility and excavation of unique samples. On Yes Lawd!, “Wngs” is the first representation of this quintessential style. Knxwledge forges a smooth and seductive groove with his sample of Ghetto Child, the 1973 track by Ahmad Jamal. This low-fi, soulful backdrop is covered with sensual vocals from .Paak. The harmony is so seductive that the track leaves you blue-balled when it finishes after just a minute and 37 seconds. This sensation soon becomes all too familiar on Yes Lawd! as many tracks are heartwarming but so short its almost infuriating.

The long cuts on Yes Lawd! give room for Anderson .Paak to utilize his hypnotic voice to express himself. The album’s opener, “Livving” is a gospel beginning where .Paak preaches the blessings of his recent success in a sermon-like manner. The track is uplifting and sets a triumphant tone for the album. This continues on “Get Bigger / Do U Love” where Anderson trades in harmony for rap to express how much has allowed him to realize his full potential. Although this reflection is engaging, it also points to .Paak’s occasional inability to vary the theme of his lyrics. The central subject of Malibu was Anderson’s journey to fame, something that he takes so much pride in that he feels compelled to again share on Yes Lawd!. 

With that said, one of the most interesting aspects of Yes Lawd! is how it communicates the changed circumstances in Anderson .Paak’s life as a star. He opens up about his new sources of stress, particularly his struggle to remain faithful to his wife. This is most apparent on “What More Can I Say.” On the hook, Anderson sings, “Yeah and every time I try to mind my own business/She gon’ come around and make me so tempted/She gon’ ask me when I’m gon’ get it/Lord can you help me?” It’s clear that .Paak is struggling to grapple with the temptation that comes with being a celebrity. His expression of this dilemma, however is many times far too blatant on Yes Lawd! that it can be off-putting. Despite this, “What More Can I Say” is one of the most intoxicating tracks on the album due to its dazzling internal of vocals with a subtle bass line and jazzy violin strings.

It would be easy to assume from its name that “Sidepiece” is a continuation of .Paak’s degradation of his marriage. Playing the song, though, is somewhat refreshing as .Paak presents an explanation for his behavior and a pledge to his wife. He expresses that although it’s “hard for [him] to keep the promise ring when [he is] out on tour,” he will “give up [his] sidepiece just to make room” for his wife. The track comes together as one of the most beautiful on the project as it’s backed by yet another alluring production from Knxwledge. This brings up a concluding point on Yes Lawd!. Anderson .Paak delivers with yet another stunning vocal performance, but his lyrical substance is occasionally shallow. The overall excellence of the album is maintained though, as Knxwledge’s beats are often so soulfully irresistible that they undermine .Paak’s sporadic lyrics.

The presence of many filler-like tracks absent of choruses gives Yes Lawd! more of a beat tape feel than a mainstream sound. It’s clear that it is not intended to be the follow-up of Malibu for Anderson .Paak but rather the debut of Nxworries. The duo transcends any standard with their distinct blend of R&B, soul, and Hip-Hop. Yes Lawd! brightly reflects that. This carefree artistry is special and an explicit statement that Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge have no worries.

Jeremy Steinberger

the author

Jeremy Steinberger

Music Culture. This is all a simulation.

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