Can we all come to a conclusion that hip hop is “going going, back back, to Cali”? With the release of Oxymoron, Schoolboy Q has sealed the deal. Being one of the first major rap releases of the year, I think everyone can come to conclusion that “gangsta rap” is back to its deep, gritty roots. Hailing from South Central, Los Angeles, Schoolboy Q explicitly tells us his hardships of growing up in a gang-ringed neighborhood in a way a suburban kid could appreciate.
Coming in for his first major album, Q shows maturity and growth compared to his previous release Habits & Contradictions. Listening to different songs on the project, one of the qualities is the great deal of time spent on the hooks. Almost every song on the album’s hooks gave a drive to dive into the verses to absorb more. One of my favorites on the cd “Los Awesome” used a lot of energy coming from the hook into an explosive verse. Assisted by TDE team-mate Jay Rock, the Pharrell produced record is dedicated to the “gang bangers” in which gives an anthem feel. Showing a more “groovy” side of Q, be sure to have your two-step ready for this banger.
Avoiding a heap of features on his début was smart move for Schoolboy Q. It gave Q the focus of all attention on the CD. But when he did have help, he uses the help of artist like Tyler, The Creator, Raekwon, and label mates [Kendrick Lamar, SZA]. On the fourth track of the cd [What They Want], he even insisted on using the help of 2 Chainz on one of the skip worthy tracks. I’ve always heard that repetition is important but the excessive saying of “this that” was uninteresting.
The standout track from this whole serving is “Studio”. Assisted by upcoming singer BJ The Chicago Kid, Schoolboy gives us a break from the gang banging to show his softer side with a cut for the ladies. Driven by heavy 808’s, a singing sample, and arpeggiated synths, Q delivered us with what I hope is his next single. After getting opinions from various people on their favorite song, Studio was the most common. Get to it Q! It’s a song that a lot of males could relate to and many women would enjoy.
Storytelling has been a concept that is becoming rare in hip hop now. In “Prescription” Q illustrates his addiction of pills and how it effected him from raising his daughter right. Then the song takes a twists into the “Oxymoron” part of the song where Q screams, “I just stopped selling crack today” rapping about how he’s now selling the drugs he was addicted to in prescription.
The songs that Schoolboy Q released prior to the album definitely lived up to the anticipation. “Collard Greens” tossed an alley-oop to label mate Kendrick Lamar and he “posterized” the song. I mean, Kendrick did rap a quarter of his verse in Spanish. One of my favorite videos of last year [Collard Greens], features a big party scene featuring a cameo from Macklemore [Awkward?]. Produced by TDE in-house producer THC, Collard Greens has experienced tons of radio play and appearances at your local college party. The other leading single from the Oxymoron is “Man of the Year”. What other feeling could you have than not feeling like “the man” listening to this song. Sampling “Cherry” by Chromatics, producer duo Nez & Rio plus Schoolboy Q flip this indie rock song into a hood classic. “Yay, Yay” in which Q dropped last year appears on the Deluxe Edition of Oxymoron. On the deluxe edition “His & Her Fiend” taps into Q taking the persona of being a oxycontin pill talking to a fiend. Another favorite and one of the interesting tracks off the CD.
It seems as rap is losing its substance and is becoming more mainstream. Rappers are less about real life stories and more about having all the money and women. This album gives me the old feeling of listening to The Game’s debut “The Documentary” . Q’s release is the first this year that shows a detailed, nurtured, and well prepared product in which will be one of the year’s favorites. Get your bucket hats ready ladies and gentlemen.
Pros: The way he opened up about a dark time in his life and told it to the world. The beat selection throughout the CD was decent also.
Cons: The repetition in a lot of his hooks. Tracks like “Gangsta” and “What They Want” he uses this technique which becomes dull.
Timeless Tracks: “Los Awesome“, “Studio“, “Collard Greens“, “Break The Bank”