By Dylan Juarez, Arts and Entertainment
Schoolboy Q, a west coast rapper from South Central Los Angeles, released Oxymoron on February 25th. Schoolboy Q is signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, aka TDE. This is label of Compton-raised rapper Kendrick Lamar. Q is the loudest one of the group, and he likes to talk the most trash. Q has big shoes to fill because Kendrick Lamar’s album, “Good Kid m.A.A.d City” was a great album. Schoolboy Q has had problems with this album because of major push backs, which eventually lead for him to take a leave of absence from all social networking. Everyone was waiting for this album, and it even landed on the lists of many music magazines including The Source for the most anticipated albums of 2014. Schoolboy Q had four singles, “Bangerz (Mosh Pit),” “Man of the Year,” Collard Greens” featuring Kendrick Lamar, and “Yay Yay.” Only two of these songs made the radio cut. One can say that Schoolboy Q is the underdog in TDE. Not many people believe he is skilled with the mic and that he is not unique. Nothing makes him stand out aside from his bucket hats, his personal fashion statement. Yet, Oxymoron has a meaning that stems from his days of selling Oxycontin®. He also says the album is named Oxymoron because it is beautifully ugly. Schoolboy Q has released an album that leaves listeners not knowing how to react, so they wait in anticipation for what the results might be.
The album starts off with Schoolboy Q’s daughter saying “Screw rap, my daddy is a gangster.” This short snippet leads into the song appropriately titled “Gangsta.” The song is great for a live performance or a crazy night with one’s friends. It just tells how most “gangstas” act or should act making statements like “A real gangsta doesn’t tattoo his tears.” The song to follow it is “Los Awesome” featuring Jay Rock, another TDE label mate. This song is upbeat and can be played at a party or driving through LA’s ghettos. The song mentions what a gang banger does and why he or she does it. The song ends in this exact opposite of what the beginning of the song. The next song was “Collard Greens” featuring Kendrick Lamar. This song is great another part song that adds to this hard hitting album. The thing that makes this track stand out is when Kendrick Lamar raps in Spanish for a few lines. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Kendrick over shadowed Q, yet what it did was help the song balance out.
The fourth song is “What They Want” featuring 2 Chainz. It is a lot different from the past three songs because the listener can tell that the music engineer for this track made the voice of both rappers much deeper than normal. This change on the voice does not bother the ear because it adds to the story being told about a drug seller. It makes the listener feel as if the drug dealer is talking directly to him or her. “Hoover Street,” the following song, continues the idea of selling drugs and starts off with a groovy type of beat that sounds like the 80s. It changes after about a minute or so and gets much darker. This change of the beat helped the song because it could have been shippable, but the new beat makes it more enjoyable. The song also talks about how Schoolboy Q grew up in the L.A. environment and how he got into a life of gang banging.
“I’m just sitting in the studio just trying to get to you baby” is the chorus to “Studio” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid. This is the love song of the album, but it has such a gangster feel to it. It reminds me of little bit of “Ratha be ya” by Tupac, which is a love song that has a thug sound to it. The next song “Prescription/Oxymoron” starts off with a shaking of a pill bottle and something cooking. This song is dark and takes a turn into Schoolboy Q’s former addiction to prescription drugs. What will hit the heart of the listener is when his daughter starts to speak in the record asking him, “What’s wrong? Are you mad?” It ends with “Okay, I love you daddy.” “Prescription” then stops, and the second half of the song “Oxymoron” starts. This song is about how Schoolboy Q stopped selling crack and “upgraded” to selling oxy cotton. It was not as dark as the first part of the song, but still had an important part to play in the album.
“The Purge” featuring Tyler, The Creator, and Kurupt, is a song that can be skipped. Here it seems like Q tried too hard to be gangster, and it nipped him. Tyler just did the chorus, and it was okay, but not great. Kurupt’s verse was not amazing. The 9th song “Blind Threats” featuring Raekwon, has a smooth beat, and Schoolboy Q flows well with this beat. It seems in this song that Q is telling God that he needs his help, but if God doesn’t help, he resolves that his gangsta life will help. Raekwon has a great verse here. This song sweeps the previous song under the rug with its soulful sound. It even ends with violins playing the song out. The following song is “Hell of a Night,” a good party song. It has a scenery of friends at a club; everything is moving in slow motion and going great for them. It is a good song to drive to as well.
“Break the Bank,” is the next song that has a slow beat but Q adds that gangsta flare to it and it makes the song. The song could have gone in such a different direction, but it so perfect because it is how Q changed from selling drugs to rapping. The ironic part of this song is that he says, “Screw rap – my rhyme’s real” saying that what he raps aren’t simply raps for him but more of his personal problems coming to surface. The last song of Oxymoron is “Man of the Year.” This song is a party song that is a great end to the album. This is his celebration song, and it makes so much sense.
Oxymoron is a beauty with blemishes; it’s an album that was almost perfect. Schoolboy Q brought gangsta back into rap. Every song had a thug feel to it, but it did not take way from the album – it actually added to it. People who loved rap back in the era of N.W.A. will enjoy this album. The thing that stops this album from being a 10 are the songs that can be skipped; they take away from the album. Honestly, “The Purge” could have been issued as a bonus track. The ironic thing is that some of the bonus tracks were actually better than that song. Another weakness is that Q’s flow in some songs was not on point, and took a little bit away from those songs. However, Schoolboy Q made a great album for not just hip hop heads, but for all. This album is an 8 out of 10. It was worth the wait, and it lived up to the expectation it made for itself. Schoolboy Q will go down as a great, new school gangsta rapper.