Dean Van Nguyen has declared war on Festivus.
Legend has it that Madlib grew so impatient waiting for MF DOOM to emerge from his hidden subterranean technodrome and return to the studio, he decided to recast the evil one’s Madvillainy verses on fresh beats. The result was Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix, which quenched nobody’s thirst for the pair’s reunification. There’s nothing to suggest that their fellow Stones Throw cohorts NxWorries—the valiant counterpoint to Madvillain’s wickedness—are as unlikely to re-enter each other’s orbit, but Knxwledge isn’t minded to wait for fresh fire from Anderson .Paak. Yes Lawd! Remixes takes tracks from their debut album, my favorite record of 2016, and gives them a fresh coat of paint.
On paper, it seems like a good idea. Knxwledge has previously flipped .Paak’s trippy solo number “Drugs” into the grubby, talkbox-doused freakout “Droogs,” one of the pair’s first classics. But Yes Lawd! Remixes feels like it was thrown together over a weekend. It’s like the producer glued .Paak’s vocals to beats summoned from old hard drives with little thought or reason.
There’s not much chemistry between Knxwledge’s new instrumentals and his collaborator’s vocals, and so the record flows about as well as a movie with audio and video slightly out of sync. That’s actually a contrast that Knxwledge and Mach-Hommy pulled off thrillingly earlier this year with offbeat tape, The Spook. So hell, maybe I just know these NxWorries tracks too well to accept off-the-cuff alternative versions, but the original Yes Lawd! maintained the producer’s trademark chopped-up beat tape ethos while still boasting a strong set of cohesive, soulful songs.
The previously swaggering “Best One” now trips up over a distractingly off-kilter drum loop. The new orchestration for “Livvin” sounds as though it’s being bumped in a bucket under the sea.
There are a couple of great moments, though. The wobbly, whacky new “HAN” compliments the looseness of .Paak’s performance. Better still is this versionof “Suede” (which is sometimes dubbed the “Uptwnmixx”). Nothing will ever touch the original, but the funky, cut-up Gil Scott Heron sample that sashayed through the cool-as-hell album version is effectively replaced by a murky, midnight blues club vibe—some cool-hand guitar licks and deep-voiced backing croons underpinning .Paak’s scintillating performance that’s lost none of its thrill. You could probably put that flow over a pneumatic drill and it’d still be groovy.