Album Review: “Yes Lawd!”

In Arts & Entertainment, Music, Reviews
 Courtesy of Stones Throw Records
Courtesy of Stones Throw Records

Singer and songwriter Anderson .Paak and producer Knxwledge tread a fine line between playful and provocative on their first full-length collaboration “Yes Lawd!” as NxWorries.

For those familiar with Knxwledge and .Paak, this record may be a little surprising. The production quality and .Paak’s vocals are still present, but the music style is distinctly different. Instead of his usual intense singing and drumming backed by his band “The Free Nationals,” .Paak displays his versatility on this more traditional hip-hop album.

“Yes Lawd!” in essence, serves as a victory lap for the Southern California hip-hop powerhouses. After years of being the new kid on the block, .Paak now revels in his hard-earned fame over the tunes of the beat scene veteran Knxwledge.

The production is laid back and calming throughout the album’s entirety. Some of the loops Knxwledge creates can even be hypnotic and soothing. At no point does the production take priority over vocals or vice versa.

Each song is a careful balancing act between the two. They are weaved together masterfully to create very natural highs and lows, both within individual tracks and throughout the album as a whole.

The two artists have at least two solo studio albums under their belts which have gained considerable recognition for their unique sound over the past few years. Their combined musical experience is immense and is vivaciously displayed as .Paak and Knxwledge play off of each other’s styles throughout the album.

On the track “Kutless,” .Paak’s playful tendency to flow between singing and rapping is brought under control by the minimalist beat. Furthermore, Knxwledge creates the perfect soundscape for .Paak to play with in the song “Get Bigger / Do U Luv,” as the singer looks back on the struggles and accomplishments he faced when he struck out on his own at the age of 17.

What he achieved during his rise to stardom and how he deals with it are most prominently displayed on the standout track of the album “Suede.” The song showcases .Paak’s success while making it clear that it has not completely gone to his head as he writes off the lifestyle of a player who has multiple women.

This recurring theme is also present on the track “Sidepiece” while he verbalizes his commitment to the woman of his dreams despite the temptations of the lifestyle that touring comes with. Some of .Paak’s motivation and love for this woman is shown when he explicitly chronicles just a few of his favorite sexual acts on “Lyk Dis.”

However, .Paak’s newfound fame is not without its hardships. Throughout the album he recounts a number of troubles that come with such tremendous success. “H.A.N.” is a comical retelling of .Paak’s encounters with trifling artists that try to use his fame to promote their mixtapes, which leads into one of the album’s many skits.

Although they aren’t formally labeled on the tracklist, the skits are a vital part of the “Yes Lawd!” composition. They bring a bit of levity and flow to the album throughout its 48-minute run time.

With most of the 19 tracks running for around three minutes or less, the skits serve as excellent interludes between the short songs. The skits even become self-referential as the sample from the cartoon, “Rick and Morty,” at the end of “Can’t Stop” calls back to lyrics found in the song “Wngs.”

“Yes Lawd!” is an accomplishment on every front and it shines among this year’s hip-hop releases. Whether it’s a raunchy song about passionate lovemaking or a skit about scientists inventing a new way to kick someone’s rear end, the album stands tall on its own two feet.

The duo creates a noise that is wholly their own as they bring together .Paak’s soulful vocals and Knxwledge’s experimental and jazzy production. The care put into this album shows, and listeners will likely find themselves eagerly scouring every available outlet to find .Paak and Knxwledge’s solo work.

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