Schoolboy Q is the latest member of the acclaimed TDE collective to drop a major label album. Q is known for being the most rugged rapper of the group. While much of his content centres on women, drugs and street life, it is delivered with enough insight and charisma that it doesn’t seem tired. However, it was interesting to see how his style would translate to the LP format.
One highlight of the album is the four track run from ‘Blind Threats’ to the end. Raekwon, whose gritty flow is clearly reflected in Q’s style, features on ‘Blind Threats’ and it is a great example of the student and the master lyrically sparring together. ‘Hell of a Night’ is the albums ‘club’ track: the build up borrows heavily from the tropes of EDM, but as its beginning to fall into Pitbull territory, it drops into a trunk rattling trap beat which is built for Q’s vocal talents. The six minute long ‘Break da Bank’ has a beat which screams west coast, and the “la-da-di-do-da-di-da-di-da-di-do” hook showcases Schoolboy’s trademark ability to make otherwise meaningless noises worthwhile. Finally, the previously released ‘Man of the Year’, which begins with “home of the party and the trees/sunny land of the G’s”, is the embodiment of Q looking back and admiring what he’s achieved, with a fat blunt and a woman on each arm, and is a perfect album closer.
While that run shows Q’s ability to make a banger, this was never really in doubt. The standout moment is the albums centrepiece: ‘Prescription/Oxymoron’. Two-parted songs seem to be all the rage since Kendrick’s debut, but these two aren’t arbitrarily stuck together. Instead ‘Prescription/Oxymoron’ is an exercise of the artform of juxtaposition.
The ‘Prescription’ half is a heart-bleeding tale of Q’s much documented addiction to prescription drugs, and how he couldn’t raise his daughter due to being constantly spaced out. Just as it’s all getting a bit depressing, in comes a sinister piano line, followed by a sub heavy, 808 packing, hi-hat rolling monster of a beat, and put simply, it bangs. The first lyric is the guttural shout of “I just stopped selling crack today”, and the ‘Oxymoron’ half carries on in this vein as Schoolboy tells tales of women and drug consumption over the unrelenting instrumental. The songs art is in expertly encompassing the two sides drug addict’s psyche: the depressing reflection of the comedown, and the untouchable high of consumption.
While Schoolboy’s album isn’t perfect – there are a few skippable songs, and a regrettable 2 Chainz feature – it’s his most complete piece of work yet and a must grab for any modern hip-hop fan.
– John Hardy