Album Review: NxWorries – WHY LAWD?

Here I thought that we might never get another NxWorries album, but lo and behold… we got one!

8 years ago, Anderson .Paak was starting to get his name out there, through things such as his album Malibu and his inclusion to the 2016 XXL Freshman List. The other project that got some shine is the debut album of the duo NxWorries (aka him and producer Knxwledge), Yes Lawd!. I even remember this being high on my Best Albums of 2016 list, even if I did like Malibu more but that’s just me.

As the years passed, Anderson had been gaining acclaim from all fronts: the Grammys and various award shows, chart success thanks to the Bruno Mars collaboration album as Silk Sonic a couple of years back, and even has his own company: Apeshit. A while back we had gotten word of something new coming from NxWorries. First, it was the single “Where U Go” with H.E.R, then that was followed by “DayDreaming” and once we got to the third single “86Sentra,” we finally got an album announcement. WHY LAWD! and like usual, I was really anticipating this album.

It has a similar runtime like it did on the previous album, 19 tracks under 44 minutes, meaning some of the tracks are short.

And now that familiar question… how’s the album?

Well, you know how in Yes Lawd!, Paak was flaunting his fast lifestyle as a smooth braggadocious player? Well, he does begin with the single “86Sentra,” although the album actually begins with an intro with some spoken word from… Dave Chappelle… about what we might deserve, and thankfully he stuck to that. But that’s all about how that lifestyle can catch up to him and how he’s wizened and aged from those days; there’s also the context that in real life, Paak has recently been divorced.

No, I can’t do the things that I used to do
No, I can’t move the same way I used to move
No, I know I can’t do the things that I used to do
No, I can’t move the same way I used to move
No way, no way
No way, no way

Yeah, there are signs of insecurity and probably bitterness on the track “KeepHer” with Thundercat, considering most of the time, a verse will end with him shouting “BITCH!” like he’s really sore about this, but again that’s the consequence of his lifestyle. Also, if you’re thinking that “wow, he sounds like an asshole”… yeah, he does.

We go into the next 3 tracks which were all released as singles: “Where I Go,” “Daydreaming,” & “FromHere.” The former, which features H.E.R. deals with the situation-ship with him and his significant other as they’re close to being through with each other, talking about their misgivings and yeah, if you saw the music video, you know this leads to “Daydreaming.” Months later after the song debuted, this is still one of the best sounding songs I’ve heard from them, especially with the electric guitar that has that 80s vibe, and when that guitar wails… baby, it wails. Yes, the song lyric-wise is simple enough but this is still excellent.

Then “FromHere” features October London delivering a mean falsetto hook as Paak reminisces about him and his girl being together, wondering now that it’s over, well… where does he go from here? Oh, and it ends with Snoop Dogg delivering a solid spoken word outro.

They say the worst thing that can happen to a man is comin’ home to an empty bed but I beg to differ
Where do I go to?
Where do I go now?

I say the worst thing that can happen to a man is if his lady gets up and changes the locks and puts all his clothes on the front door, and now she’s nowhere to be found, and now you have nowhere to go

The production overall has that vintage and lo-fi sound that Knxwledge is known for, and it sounds as dusty, smoky and old-school as you may think. “Distractions,” “Lookin’,” & “FallThru” are some of the best showcases production-wise. “Battlefield” also reminds you that while Paak can sang like no one’s business, he can still rap with as much soul as he can. Of course, there’s more of those post-divorce lyrics on “HereIAm” with how he’s trying to move on from the heartache and how people thought he was stupid for messing up a good thing, even moving on to date a 21-year-old who’s ‘dumb as a brick with shitty music taste’ – his words, not mine. That, and he also gets annoyed when they bring that whole thing up over and over again.

What a shame that we never seen Jamaica (What a shame)
I was ‘posed to take the vacation, but flaked on ya (What a shame, what a shame)
And uh, no one wants to hear my sides of things, ha
My own mama called me stupid when I broke the news (No way)
“Yous a fool to go and ruin up a good thing” (It’s a fool)
I guess I had to lose to fully appreciate (It’s a fool, it’s a fool)
And now I gots to move ’cause the lease is in your name (I gots to move)
But I’m lettin’ all the hoes know I’m single again (No liе, no lie) (Single again)

There’s also a reminder from the last album that he needs to… well, “get his shit together” as Rick & Morty once said. “OutTheWay” with Rae Khalil is one that reminds us of that tidbit. “SheUsed” has that soulful touch and yeah, the vocals are pitched to a higher, chipmunk soul sound that didn’t bother me all that much. We get more shorter songs towards the end like “MoreOfIt,” which is like a celebratory snippet about paying off his mom’s mortgage and living it up.

Then there’s “NVR.RMX” where Paak reflects on the damage he did in his relationship and how he never meant to do any harm. Plus, he has Charlie Wilson to back him up on that and I kinda wish we had more of him because the song’s nice as all hell. “DistantSpace” with The Last Artful, Dodgr (yeah, that’s the whole stage name, even with the comma!) is another snippet of ‘it is too late for a 2nd chance?’

Then in comes the final track of the album (well, sorta — “EvnMore” is the final track but it’s an 26 second instrumental closing the album out) with “WalkOnBy” with Earl Sweatshirt and Rae Khalil as they delve into their personal struggles and the complexities of their relationships from Paak’s emotional experiences as said to never shed a tear and doing self-medication; Earl reflects on old acquaintances’ resentments and the one time he gave some misguided advice that he would not say today, and Rae goes through some isolation and feeling invisible despite being out in the open. It also has some soulful and moody production that fits the track and a good way to conclude the album.

Overall, Why Lawd? is a fantastic follow-up eight years in the making, and it’s showing some maturity with how the consequences of what he was spitting on the last record affected him and his relationship. Knxwledge’s production is stellar in bringing that dusty R&B sounds reminiscent of the late ’70s and ’80s, and Paak on the record does play his usual charming self, even when he’s being an ass but there is some self-awareness and world weariness that you do get later on.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT. Why Lawd? Because it’s that damn good.

WHY LAWD is on Stones Throw Records and available on CD, vinyl, cassette, digital download and streaming services.

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