Breezy Lovejoy. That was Anderson .Paak’s first moniker as a musician. Probably for the best that he ditched it – dude sounded like a minor character from Anchorman – but it does hint at what a smooth operator he is. The 30-year-old Californian’s sultry R&B and hip hop set, delivered as the sun was ebbing away, briefly turned this year’s Reading Festival into something akin to Coachella. Well, OK, almost.
And no wonder: his 2016 album ‘Malibu’ was unashamedly sexy, featuring one of last year’s best singles in ‘Heart Don’t Stand A Chance’. It’s funky as fuck with a confidently weird chorus that interrupts the flow, distilling all of .Paak’s virtues into five glorious minutes. This new album, then, sees him seek to capitalise on his reputation as the louchest loverman in hip hop right now.
‘Yes Lawd!’ is actually released under the name NxWorries (pronounced “no worries”) and is a collaboration between .Paak and Philadelphia producer Knxwledge, who’s best known for his jazzy, old-school sound and work on the track ‘Momma’ from Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’. This latest record is a sprawling, languid affair, running to 19 tracks of soulful hip hop.
On ‘Livvin’, .Paak explains, “I’m livin’ / It ain’t all about the money, you feel me? / But if it’s out there, why don’t you get it?” Crooned as female backing vocalists sing in honeyed tones, this sets the freewheeling mood of the record. ‘What More Can I Say’ is a highlight, boasting a swooning violin sample and a classy horn section that gives the song a warm, ’70s sound. Almost as slinky is ‘Sidepiece’, on which the narrator gallantly vows to dump his bit on the side to ‘make room’ for The One. So, yes, this is a very well-crafted album that succeeds on its own terms.
Yet there’s no ‘Heart Don’t Stand A Chance’ here. There’s no classic, stop-everything track to grab to you by the heartstrings. Then again, ‘Suede’ (also featured on NxWorries’ 2015 EP ‘Link Up & Suede’) comes close enough – which is closer than anyone else is likely to come before the year is up.