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Recess reviews: NxWorries' 'Yes Lawd!'

<p>Singer Anderson .Paak teams up with producer Knxwledge to form NxWorries.</p>

Singer Anderson .Paak teams up with producer Knxwledge to form NxWorries.

Under the name NxWorries, producer Knxwledge and the ascendant Anderson .Paak have teamed up to deliver an album that somehow falls short of the sum of its parts.

“Yes Lawd!,” the debut album from the collaboration, follows the duo’s “Link Up and Suede” EP, released in Dec. 2015, and includes some of the same tracks, including—you guessed it—“Link Up” and “Suede.” While Paak’s star has risen astronomically with the release of his second album “Malibu” and some key features on Dr. Dre’s 2015 “Compton,” his team-up with the Bandcamp-famous Knxwledge precedes his mainstream fame.

With Paak delivering his signature rapped-sung bars over Knxwledge’s vintage beats, “Yes Lawd!” should have been a home-run for the two musicians, with both of them doing what they do best. The album, however, lacks cohesion and feels more like a beat CD with a few half-baked verses thrown on top.

Not that the beats are bad—far from it. Knxwledge, who broke on the scene after producing Kendrick Lamar’s song “Momma,” is one of the best producers in the game right now. His hazy, sample-driven percussion falls in the same lane as that of of Madlib or J Dilla, with chopped string samples often coming in before the beat. Complex percussion that often echoes itself or falls slightly behind the beat anchors each song.

Paak, however, fails to add anything particularly interesting to the solid base provided by Knxwledge. “Malibu” was characterized by his raspy, yet smooth singing, with a few bars thrown in here or there, but here, most of his “verses,” if you can call them that, lack any structure. This leaves most songs sounding like Paak’s smooth ramblings about sex and marijuana.

The album really kicks off with “Livvin,” which features continuous drum fills, a horn section and a soul backup choir over, while Paak sings about… “livin’,” over and over again. Other than an admittedly clever line about not being confused for Ruben Studdard because of his success, the song is completely insubstantial with no central theme tying it all together.

Most songs on the album fall into this trap, but are blessedly brief—only five tracks on the 19-song album are longer than three minutes. And it isn’t to say that there aren’t good songs on the album: “Lyk Dis” is an old school jam undercut by the same percussion that underlies Lamar’s “Momma,” and “Suede” is a an excellent, dirty miasma of a song where Paak manages to convince his lover that calling her a b**** is ok, as long as he’s the one doing it.

The production on the remainder of “Yes Lawd!” is great—Knxwledge doesn’t disappoint at all. However, the fundamental lack of structure in individual songs and the album as a whole undercut the quality beats. The beats may have been better served by a more conventional verse-hook-verse format provided by a rapper, and we’ll just have to wait for Knxwledge to find the perfect counterpart before seeing what his songs actually sound like.

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