Anderson .Paak reminds us of someone. Maybe it's his raspy, soulful voice that sounds like a mix between Raphael Saadiq, Jaheim, and D'Angelo. Or his uniquely familiar rags-to-riches story. Or his critically acclaimed third album, Malibu, in which Anderson tells his life story — every heart-wrenching, lovely, stirring nuance — in vivid detail. Whatever it is, we feel like we know Paak; we understand him, and we appreciate him. He's our brother, our cousin, and our friend. Thus, when Anderson sings, raps, or does both, we're compelled to listen. We yearn for his insight, however imperfect or inconsistent, because he is genuine.
In collaboration with fellow label mate and inventive producer Knxwledge, Paak provides a few more perspectives from his journey in life with Yes Lawd! Though the joint album is considerably shorter than any of Anderson's previous work — and lacks the substance and lyrical depth found on his other albums — it’s obscenely enjoyable and resonant nonetheless.
Stones Throw Records has a history of cultivating high-quality, genre-bending duos. The independent label is responsible for producing 7 Days of Funk featuring original gangster rapper Snoop Dogg and producer Dâm-Funk, as well as Madvillain, a fruitful partnership between rapper MF Doom and producer Madlib, which spawned the profusely entertaining Madvilliany.
Yes Lawd! is rhapsodically innovative with many tracks serving as a nod to the funkadelic sounds of yesteryear. On "Suede" Anderson drops a few life gems juxtaposing the advantages of pursuing money against the perils of chasing fast women, while detailing the misguided decorum for using the derogatory slur associated with a female dog. "Side Piece" offers an unconventional, albeit quite common, perspective on love with Paak harboring feelings so deep for his main squeeze that he'd promptly dismiss his mistress. Anderson offers faux refuge to ill-intentioned, hating simps everywhere on the comedic track "H.A.N." which includes an appropriate sample from the movie The Players Club. The album concludes with "Fkku" as a scorned woman details the many ways she wishes for retribution upon Paak as he ironically sings "I do love you" in the background.
While Yes Lawd! can easily be mistaken for yet another Paak album, it isn't merely about Anderson's extracurricular shenanigans and the (seemingly) many shallow relationships he's endured. Knxwledge also commands attention with his approbatory deftness the behind the boards. Though he has traditionally produced beats for hip-hop acts — namely Kendrick Lamar and Earl Sweatshirt — Knxwledge excels within this R&B atmosphere by providing his partner the harmonic space for Paak to be, well, Paak. For instance, Knxwledge perfectly mixes soulful melodies and a complimentary baseline on "Starlite" while making proper use of B. B. & Q's "(I Could Never Say) It's Over" on "Scared Money." Yes Lawd! is anything but religious, yet it's a gospel in its own right. Paak's vocals coupled with Knxwledge's imaginative rhythms serve as an impassioned dose of impulsive reality from a beautifully eccentric, artistic duo. It's sexy, poignant, authentic, funny, and superficial. But above all, with the assistance of Knxwledge's keen ear, it's signature Paak.
Listen to Yes Lawd! below: