2013 brought impressive releases from some of the most renowned rappers of our time: Jay Z’s astounding “Magna Carta…Holy Grail,” Drake’s highly-anticipated “Nothing Was The Same,” and Kanye’s contentious “Yeezus,” to name a few. Well, a new year has begun, and with it, some fresh artists have found their way to the top of the charts. While Schoolboy Q isn’t exactly new to the game, his February release of “Oxymoron” is his first pick-up from a major record label.
The album is, in short, a masterpiece. It’s a journey through Schoolboy Q’s life, from partying with friends to his regrets regarding his relationship with his daughter. The entirety of the album is delivered with a tone of dark cynicism, with songs like “Hoover Street” chronicling his uncle’s battle with drug addiction. There’s still a hint of romance, in tracks like “Studio,” but these instances feel out of place amidst the twisted tales that Q spins. It’s a very thoughtful release, years in the making and rife with superstar collaborations. Make way, A$AP and Childish; “Oxymoron” establishes Schoolboy Q as a force to be reckoned with.
Q hails from South Central LA (addressed on the album’s closing track, “F**k LA”) and signed with local indie label Top Dawg Entertainment in 2009. This proved to be a good decision for Q, as TDE introduced him to the artists with whom he would later form hip-hop group Black Hippy (made up of Q, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock). He follows in Kendrick’s footsteps as the second artist from Black Hippy to release an album with Interscope Records.
Q collabs with Kendrick on one of the strongest songs on the album, “Collard Greens.” The song’s hook is hypnotizing and Lamar uses his verse to show us exactly why he was nominated for a Grammy (and maybe question why Macklemore was the one who took the award home). Other notable cameos include Tyler, the Creator on “The Purge” and 2 Chainz on “What They Want.”
By far the most insightful track on “Oxymoron” is “Prescription/Oxymoron.” In the first half of the song, Q tells of the dark side of his prescription drug dependence; he raps about ignoring his family in order to get high alone and about the pain of withdrawal. His verses are intercut with recordings of his three-year-old daughter, Joy (“What’s wrong, daddy? Wake up!”). The second half of the track features a verse where Q emphatically tells of his foray in dealing drugs while trying to support his family. The song is brutally truthful, and, at just over seven minutes long, serves as the true treasure on the album.
With “Oxymoron,” Q has finally gotten a foot in the door of mainstream rap. Q is an aggressive rapper (think Eminem), but he balances his tone out with melodic hooks and effortlessly catchy beats. All in all, it balances out to a mellow listen with truly heartbreaking and introspective lyrics. If you still think rap is all about “gold teeth/Grey Goose/trippin’ in the bathroom,” you’ve obviously been listening to the wrong station.
RECOMMENDED: 2014 kicks off with a tremendously strong rap release in the form of Schoolboy Q’s “Oxymoron.
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