NxWorries, “Yes Lawd!”
As the apocalypse looms, as death crawls across our land, it’s nice to know that an album like Yes Lawd! is in our lives to keep us company, to hang out, to remind us that all is not lost—to chill with us. Spending fifty minutes rubbing up against this, Knxwledge and Anderson .Paak’s lavish debut tape as NxWorries, is to luxuriate in smoothness as an end unto itself, almost unanimously absent of pain. Yes Lawd! is so inviting, so wonderfully removed from cynicism and impervious to hot takes, it’s practically tactile in its goodness. It is, in other words, something 2016 desperately needs.
From the jump, producer Knxwledge builds up “Livvin” like a wound-down soul performance, opening the curtain on Paak like he’s James Brown saying goodnight and sinking beneath the royal cape his handlers keep trying to pile onto his shoulders, horns and start-stop snares shrugged off. Paak, too, is eternally shrugging: “It ain’t all about the money, you dummy / But if it’s out here, why don’t you get it?” The song saunters in two directions at once, not because it’s waffling in its purpose, but because Yes Lawd! is that open to whatever—to taking what may come as it comes, reveling in whatever happens, tipping its hat to acceptance and appreciation and the Zen of Good Vibes.
All else follows as breathtakingly correct. “Lyk Dis” is a lost Soulquarians cut, as laser-focused on sensuality as D’Angelo in a fedora. Paak may not be a terribly interesting lyricist, but his ability to pivot on a tricky line (“Who put the pussy in the coffin…”) is almost holy (“…then make it rise to God above?”), while Knxwledge’s sense for turning tripe into an all-timer is supernatural: the waltz-y croon “Another Time” is a perfect example of the beatmaker’s telepathic ability to know exactly where his partner needs the most help. “Scared Money,” meanwhile, demonstrates the opposite: Knxwledge’s bastardization of what sounds like the Charles in Charge theme song—something concocted seemingly in the throes of a vaporwave addiction—shackles itself to a groove to give Paak all the room and rhythm he needs.
Of course, a record which is an antibody must also, in some small part, sympathize with the disease, and Yes Lawd! can be a misogynistic mess of crisscrossing messages. “Suede,” for example, is a pretty dumb song, but its Blackstreet-like retro-swagger drowns out the idiot chatter drawled beneath. “Starlite” follows, and Paak apologizes, professing his love. For a short enough time, we believe him. We believe this feeling he gives us will be ours forever. The end, we know, will come, but rather than help us rally against it, Yes Lawd! allows us to pause and soak in such inevitability: whatever may come, god knows we deserve it. So let’s get it.