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Every week we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week's album is Yes Lawd!, from the rap duo NxWorries.
To cast Anderson .Paak’s music to the gallows of a bygone era is ironic in itself, given his 30 years of age could easily account for double. As evidenced by January’s magnum opus Malibu - and further confirmed by Yes Lawd! —out a week early via Apple Music— .Paak carries the indispensable quality of channeling timeless sounds through timely music, fusing the soul from the vinyl in the basement with the bars on the raggedy cassettes in the attic. He’s a champion of giving my generation, high-tide deep in the digital divide, the sound our parents thirst for and tell us we missed out on.
Yes Lawd! is no show-stealing operation, but a coordinated timewarp between .Paak’s days pushing grocery carts and the newfound success granting him the chance to become a weathered road warrior. .Paak and Knxwledge work in tandem, the sync never falling out of place as Knx’s crate-digging ethos carries the dusty vibe through a 49-minute collage that burns slow like a blunt cruise in a Monte Carlo. Place this album on vinyl and you’d be easily mistaken in claiming this album came out on Apple Music a week early; it feels warm and filthy like what plays in the background at the holiday functions by the fireplace. Knx is an expert of a slowly-dying era, making .Paak find home so easily in the chops that one may forget a majority of the instrumentation came from elsewhere.
From the scatterbrained skits to the vinyl pops, Yes Lawd! is eerily reminiscent of Madvillainy: seemingly low-hanging fruit to compare, but so cleanly cut from the same cloth it can stand as an equal over a derivative. It’s not about the destination, but the ride and not slamming the door too damn hard on your way out the whip. .Paak’s character is Black Dynamite with a septum ring, Goldie from The Mack with an iPhone in his lap. The aforementioned pimp shit isn’t a static shtick: there’s fuck songs, motivation anthems, and calls to God between another turkey-and-cheese on “Get Bigger / Do U Luv.” The Gospel is never far from the sinner, and love appears in all its forms, even if it’s cheese grits and cornbread on “Best One.” There’s blissful reminiscence, the record’s tone carrying a fondness for the time spent digging one’s way out of the struggle.
.Paak plays the mack so well - finding moments of peak hypermasculinity littered throughout - his true sentiment becomes difficult to pick apart. Take the record “What More Can I Say,” finding .Paak in deep in his dog ways and too stubborn to change once a passing skirt flutters in the wind. The best example comes from “Starlite” on the back end, a spiteful soul record where pimp reverse psychology drives .Paak to tell a woman how he brought her up from the projects, only to call her back inside and take it all back. This record is followed by “Sidepiece,” an earnest thrust into desperation as he wants his love to take him back in the wake of everyone moving on with their lives and his dick being left in the dust. Truly in true love with blaxplotation, the .Paak we see here is unconcerned with redemption, to a front; for every moment his dog ways are on full display, he can try damn hard to make you love him again.
There’s a moment of “Link Up” where .Paak attributes his game to the men in his lineage that passed it down: “Big grandaddy, grandpa, my father and now it’s my season to shine.” We’re knee-deep (no, totally deep) in that moment, making Yes Lawd! another triumphant step for the NxWorries boys. That’s two crown jewels in the Anderson .Paak catalog for the year and another in Knxwledge’s crown as a premiere beatsmith. If this LP dropped a few decades ago, the duo would be on course to become international superstars through an uncanny pop sensibility like Isleys or Mayfield. Thankfully they’re here now, gracing us with the almighty two-step like a forgotten prayer in basements and bedrooms everywhere. Sometimes, that’s all the soul we need.
Michael Penn II (aka CRASHprez) is a rapper and a former VMP staff writer. He's known for his Twitter fingers.
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