New NxWorries album a smooth, charismastic listen

Do you like soul music, Madlib’s beat-tapes and Anderson .Paak? Well you’re in luck. The album “Yes Lawd!” by NxWorries is a combination of those three things.

NxWorries is the name of the duo consisting of recent XXL Freshman inductee Anderson .Paak and producer Knxwledge. Anderson .Paak had a mini surge in popularity last year with the commercial success of his LP “Malibu.”

“Malibu” struck a nice balance between nostalgic hip-hop and heartfelt R&B in a way that felt like a cohesive whole and not two separate paradigms. But the album feels a little bit too bloated for my tastes; I always feel like I’m forcing myself to finish the album when I listen to it.

Knxwledge, on the other hand, seems to be following in the steps of producers such as Madlib and J Dilla, but for the SoundCloud age. The comparison might be a little unfair because of how prolific Madlib and Dilla are (“Yes Lawd!” is even released under Madlib’s record label Stones Throw Records), but Knxwledge is shaping up to follow in their shoes. In addition, he is releasing tons of short, inventive beats. He has his hands in the production of tons of MCs from Blu to Action Bronson.

So .Paak & Knxwledge come together to form the act NxWorries. They released the “Link Up & Suede” EP last year before the release of “Malibu,” and now we have a full LP. If there’s anything I can say right off the bat about this album, it’s that this album is smooth.

The tracks are short, the album is short and the beats never sound overbearing or aggressive. Even the pseudo-opener “Livvin,” with its triumphant horns, still sounds a little laid-back with drawn-out refrains from the horns.

This isn’t an album you’re ever going to hear being “bumped” because it’s not an album that bumps. .Paak & Knxwledge knew what type of music they wanted to make—calm, cool and confident—they excel in this regard.

Where this album also excels is in the act of chilling. You have to walk to Shipping and Receiving and want to relax on your way? Put this album on through your headphones and be amazed at how quickly the walk goes by. Are you hanging out with some friends and want a throw rug to cover up that awkward silence when no one is talking? Look no further than NxWorries.

I’m not trying to be patronizing towards the album in any way. “Yes Lawd!” is easy listening in the best way possible. This isn’t cheesy elevator music, though, this is music that doesn’t take much to appreciate and it is an absolute joy to listen to. I enjoyed this album a ton, but it’s definitely not for everyone. If you know the lyrics to the album “Madvillainy” from beginning to end, or if you’re a fan of Madlib’s “Beat Konducta” tapes and wished they had vocal performances to go along with the beats, then you will find a lot to love on this album.

That being said, if you aren’t a fan of short, experimental soul/hip-hop, then this album probably won’t be the one to convert you (although I can’t think of an album that might be more accessible). The songs are short and the lyrics never go much deeper than women, booze and dancing. But at least it sounds nice.

There’s just something so charming about hearing .Paak’s croons fade away on the end of “Jodi,” only to be replaced by the ghostly vocal samples on “Link Up.” And when .Paak’s vocals come back in on the track, you’ll be amazed at just how smooth the ride is.

It goes without saying then that Knxwledge and .Paak are a dynamic duo. .Paak’s vocals work absolute wonders over Knxwledge’s soulfully spacey production. Take, for instance, the track “Wngs.” The beat on this track has this heavy bassline that forms a foundation for the bright keyboard notes, and then .Paak’s vocals chime in. It sounds like Neapolitan ice cream laced with serotonin, and it is an absolute treat to listen to.

Notice how I’ve only talked about this album in terms of how it sounds. That’s because the lyrics aren’t that special. As much as I was raving over the track “Wngs,” the lyrics aren’t anything you haven’t heard before, and they could really come from any of .Paak’s contemporaries.

My other problem with the album is that it’s almost too short—not in the sense that this album left me wanting more (which it still does), but in the sense that sometimes the tracks are too short to fully develop into songs in their own right. I love the track “Wngs,” but it’s only a minute and a half long. It left a sweet taste in my mouth, to be sure, but it felt like I ate half a box of Nerds—I was left wanting more.

This problem really makes itself apparent on the longer tracks. These tracks are consistently the standouts. “Suede” and “Link Up” are two of the longest tracks, and they feel the most complete. Whereas “Wngs” just kinda cuts itself off, these two tracks end where they are supposed to.

If I could sum up this album in one word, it would be charismatic. There aren’t any real virtues that dictate what it means to be charismatic; a charismatic person is just charismatic. This album is the musical equivalent of that. It’s not a deep, personal or necessarily rewarding listen, but I thoroughly enjoy listening to it and in the weeks since its release, something has been drawing me back to this album over and over again.

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