Exclaim!'s Top 15 Hip-Hop Albums Best of 2016

5. ScHoolboy Q
Blank Face LP
(Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope)

Darker, fiercer and less compromising than his 2014 breakthrough Oxymoron, ScHoolboy Q's fifth album is his hardest yet. Capturing the nothing-to-lose aura of his younger, broker, more violent self, the former Hoover Crip cares little here for catering to any new ears his increased Billboard notoriety may have stole for him; what he does care about is upgrading and varying his flows and energy, and selecting dope beats.
This and improved writing serve as the perfect mask for stomping over familiar themes. Sure, there are the requisite showtime cameos — Kanye West, Miguel, E-40, and Anderson .Paak, who was everywhere in 2016 — but Q pulls them all under his bucket hat and hotboxes them tight under a balaclava. Groovy Tony frightens with modern gangster anthems like "Ride Out," addresses the ladies on "Overtime" and makes P-funk relevant again on the irresistible "Big Body" (with Tha Dogg Pound), and all of it's gleefully irreverent. If Oxymoron was ScHoolboy Q flashing us a needle, Blank Face LP is him driving it unrepentantly into our arm, again and again. More, please.
Luke Fox