"I think most rappers hit their prime in their 30s," Top Dawg Entertainment heavyweight ScHoolboy Q tells Exclaim! "You done seen so much at that age. You done dropped so many projects. It's just full circle for you, like you've seen this before. You know what to do and what not to do."
An older, wiser, more seasoned Q is what we get from his fourth studio album, Blank Face, out now on Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope. But despite all the excitement around his new LP, the 29-year-old wordsmith seems largely unfazed — there's a wisdom and a calm about him, the kind that only comes with experience and time. He's secure in his artistry and is not at all concerned with the pressure to top his last project.
"I'm just having fun, man. I don't really go in competition with people," says Q. "I've got my fans and all I'm trying to do is keep them pleased. I can care less if I get any bigger — I just don't want to get any smaller."
Though on the surface Q appears cavalier about the project, his approach to Blank Face suggests a focus on quality and a sharp eye for detail. Videos for the first two singles, "Groovy Tony" and "THat Part" (featuring Kanye West), as well as a promotional series of short films that began circulating in late June hinted at an immersive, cinematic experience that will depart in flavour and style from Oxymoron.
"I never want to do the same thing over and over again. Don't get me wrong, it feels good to see that you did good or have a number one album, but at the same time, you hearing the music feels better. Seeing people recite the words — that's a better feeling than looking at a number one album in the country."
Judging by the diverse range of collaborators (among them, Anderson .Paak, Jadakiss and Vince Staples) and promising host of producers (Sounwave, Metro Boomin, the Alchemist), Blank Face is poised to be Q's biggest project to date. At least, he seems fairly confident that it is.
"If you love it, I appreciate you, I love you to death. If you don't like it, shame the fuck on you."
Check out the album's just-completed video trilogy below.