Music | Album review – Schoolboy Q
On ‘Control’, the infamous Big Sean track that featured Kendrick Lamar bluntly calling out the biggest names in hip-hop, we could hear Kendrick proclaiming in a mad, intentionally idiotic voice “I don’t smoke crack, motherfucker, I sell it!”.
The midst of Oxymoron, the third record by Schoolboy Q, Lamar’s fellow mate from TDE, meets the following line, pronounced in a similar vein to Kendrick’s fashion: “I just stopped selling crack today”. But, this time around it’s not a witty metaphor; Q forthrightly shares his struggles with pushing drugs to which he had to put an end for the future of his newborn daughter.
Despite all the flashbacks and occasionally palpable presence of Lamar, Oxymoron is not a concept album like his ‘good kid, m.A.A.d city’ was and frankly it seemed like an unreachable height from the very start. Instead, Schoolboy Q takes a more traditional approach, filling his long-awaited record with noir ambience accomplished through practically rudimentary gangsta rap beats, craftily making it sound as West Coast as it gets. Indeed, looking at the LP’s features, its direction becomes even more apparent: Jay Rock, Kurupt, Tyler, the Creator and the list of Californian giants, young and old, goes on. Lyrically, Oxymoron further outlines this vivid image with young Q passing drug tests for his abusive uncle in exchange for whiskey on ‘Hoover Street’, talking of “gang-banging” insanity on ‘Los Awesome’ and reminiscing about drug-dealing days on ‘Prescription-Oxymoron’. Whilst, yes, there is almost nothing on this album that suggests a complete breakthrough, Schoolboy has nonetheless shown fair play by winning without breaking the genre’s established rules.