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Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge create a soulful hip hop record with ‘Yes Lawd!’

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2016, the 20th anniversary of legendary hip-hop record label Stones Throw, was the perfect time for up-and-coming hip-hop artists Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge to drop their new collaborative album, “Yes Lawd!,” under the moniker NxWorries.

“Yes Lawd!,” released Oct. 21, encapsulates the sound Stones Throw was pushing when the label began, when it featured young and incredibly talented underground hip hop artists (Peanut Butter Wolf & Madlib come to mind) throwing their music into the world and hoping that the hip-hop community would do them justice.

NxWorries also lays out where the record label is going, bringing forth producers with the bumpiest beats and vocalists whose lyrics are sharp enough to cut diamonds.

“Yes Lawd!” may be one of the most exciting collaborative LPs in hip-hop since Stones Throw put out “Madvillainy,” a collaboration by MF Doom & Madlib, in 2004. An element of “Madvillainy” that sparked its universal praise was the musical chemistry that MF Doom and Madlib maintained through each track. Knxwledge and Anderson.Paak exhibit a similar fluidity here.

If you haven’t heard of Knxwledge yet, then this is a surprisingly great place to start. While many hip-hop fans have declared veteran producers Prince Paul (De La Soul), DJ Premier (GangStarr), J Dilla and Madlib as the greatest beat makers to have ever graced the earth with their sonic presence, there is no doubt that Knxwledge is quickly working his way up there.

If there is anything Knxwledge has learned from the greats, it is the need for consistency. Like Dilla and Madlib, whose vinyl discography could practically fill a room, Knxwledge has produced 64 beat tapes and he is not stopping any time soon. They’re all unique and they are why Knxwledge might be the most talented producer of our generation.

Anderson .Paak, who may appeal to those reluctant to dabble in the underground depths of the hip-hop world, likely has found a way into your headphones at some point over the past few years. He appeared as a frequent feature on Dr. Dre’s 2015 masterpiece “Compton,” and from there became one of the dominant voices in hip-hop today.

Anderson .Paak’s vocals are filled with a soulful ambiance, finding him pulling from influences like gospel and Marvin Gaye to create his own unique appeal.

For this collaboration, these two prove to be a match made in heaven. Both Knxwledge and Anderson .Paak share similar backgrounds, having had to grind hard for many years to gain the recognition they both now deservingly have. Now that they have acquired their status as elite hip-hop artists through hard work, proving they got there for a reason is a must.

Like the best, most fully fleshed out hip hop records, “Yes Lawd!” contains small vignettes of dialogue and brief musical patterns that add character to the record and bring about its most pleasurable moments. One can hear samples from the hysterical “Adult Swim” show “Rick and Morty” and moments when Anderson .Paak calls out members of the audience for being “H.A.N.”s (listen to the song to find out what that means).

Yet most of these intricacies are for the listeners to discover themselves. The bangers are the tracks that will make you play this record on repeat for the rest of the week.

With the album’s fifth song “What More Can I Say,” the record takes off. Knxwledge spins a gorgeous violin and trumpet sample that brings to mind Madlib’s “Dillalade Ride (Contact High).” The looping violin will make any beat lover swoon, and when Anderson.Paak compliments it with his soaring vocals, the song elevates the listener to the clouds in its ambience and sway.

Two tracks later, “Lyk Dis” hits the listener’s ears with a blissful punch. A round and groovy beat works behind a whammy-ing instrumental, and when Anderson .Paak comes in, he instantly owns this backing track.

His lyrics deal with lust and love as he reassures women that there is “No need to thank me, yours for the taking.” On “Lyk Dis,” one can understand the hype about Anderson .Paak. His vocals control the beat’s tempo, using its warping sound perfectly to his advantage.

“Get Bigger/Do U Luv” is another catchy and soulful track. Anderson .Paak primarily spits (or sings) bars on this one, explaining the mentality of a hardworking artist trying to take bigger steps in his life, while Knxwledge lays down a gospel-like beat that evokes both artists’ church-filled childhood and musical influences.

“Yes Lawd!” is the most complete and fully realized hip-hop collaboration of 2016 thus far. Both artists bring their greatest strengths together and create a singular, fluid sound that bounces from track to track with finesse.

If you’re finally sick of Frank Ocean’s “Blonde” and are looking for something equally soulful and new, look no further than “Yes Lawd!”

William Plotnick can be reached at [email protected]

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