Published Feb 24, 2014If Kendrick Lamar is this generation's Nas — introspective, conceptually brilliant, an ear for brilliant beats and a taste for dead-on diction — and good kid, m.A.A.d. city is a major label classic debut in the tradition of Illmatic, then fellow Black Hippy member Schoolboy Q is the character Lamar observes from his project window. Quincey Hanley has lived the ugliness that sounds so scarily intoxicating to the casual rap listener. Real ghetto gang stripes — nearly a prerequisite to pick up a microphone for a spell in the early '90s — seem so far removed from the iTunes rap chart of today. Q's hands are dirty, his rhymes are imperfect, but his descriptions are fantastic, his flow pliable and punishing.
Teetering between half-cocked and half-faded, and sounding like a futuristic blend of B-Real, Sean Price and Dru Down, the Crip's third full-length effort (if you haven't spent time with 2012's Habits and Contradictions, you're doing it wrong) shows the single parent son's vast improvement as both a writer and a vocalist. Rambunctious and irreverent, Oxymoron blasts bullet holes in the theory that gangsta rap can't sound fresh for 2014. Anticipation was already high upon hearing the quality of pre-released bangers "Man of the Year," Break the Bank" and "Collard Greens," but it's the album cuts that make Oxymoron — a double-entendre nod to the former Oxycontin dealer and current No. 1 dad's paradoxical lifestyle — an early favourite for Top 10 of 2014.
Q easily out-gleams 2 Chainz on the hypnotic "What They Want"; he laments his uncle bogarting his breakfast cereal on "Hoover Street"; and blesses us with a two-step banger worthy of the Clipse reunion we may never get on the Pharrell-helmed "Los Awesome." But perhaps it's the pimptastic bonus cut "Grooveline Pt. 2" that best shows Q's raw aesthetic: "You's a ho that's selling coochie/ No need to be actin' bougie/ Bitch, I give your ass a noogie/ And a chicken nugget and make you watch me at the movies/ I'm panoramic." Stop. You had me at "featuring Suga Free."
Read an interview with ScHoolboy Q from our April 2014 issue here. (Top Dawg)