NxWorries: Why Lawd? Album Review

NxWorries: Why Lawd? Album Review


In December 2020, Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge performed at the Double Happiness festival. The show was a livestream and the artists were isolated with no audience except the camera crew. “I hate it, bro. I want the people, I want the sweat,” Paak joked. But NxWorries squeezed plenty of fun out of their barely 10-minute set. Its most striking moment made it directly onto their second album, Why Lawd? “Stop playin’ wit’ my boy Knxwledge,” Paak shouts through reverb’d vocals, hyping up early single “Where I Go,” a smooth jam that equally channels early 2000s Monica and Knx’s WrapTaypes series. When the clip appears in the album version, it sounds grandiose yet humble. Paak and Knx have toured the world, sold out arenas, and worked with plenty of larger-than-life collaborators. But that stripped-back rendition of “Where I Go” contains both the intimacy of a steamy rendezvous and the focused showmanship of a band ready to shut down a 10,000-cap room.

NxWorries’ 2016 debut, Yes Lawd!, was as carefree as a new-age mack daddy rap&B album could be. The billowing thump of Knxwledge’s exhaustive backlog of beat tapes blended well with Paak’s scratchy croon-raps, somewhere between Joe Tex and Black Dynamite with a taste for vegan sausage. Eight years on, with higher individual profiles, how would NxWorries recapture that patent-leather Air Force sheen? The sumptuous Why Lawd? not only succeeds, it expands their vision. The beats are more ambitious, the lyrics more thoughtful on subjects of affection, rejection, and coital bliss. They sound as enamored with having loved and lost as with the future joys and miseries just over the horizon.

Yes Lawd! came to party and dash, but Why Lawd? takes a slightly more grown approach. The first proper track “86Sentra” starts out business as usual, with Paak dangling used cars in front of love interests and rapping about playing the Super Bowl over an ominous organ loop. On “MoveOn,” he contemplates the pain he’s put himself through by living recklessly. Then, as if to put that insight to the test, “KeepHer” fleshes out the story of an ex-wife determined to leave his bullshit for a new paramour, no matter how much money he throws her way. “He don’t love you the way I—/You don’t look good in that Hyundai,” he says, before begging her for farewell sex in the next verse. It’s rewarding to see his slimeball charm turned against him: Paak is rarely, if ever, on the business end of a breakup song.

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