The ever-eccentric Schoolboy Q has no problem forging his own path. So while most rappers eschew labels that peg them into restrictive sonic niches, the ex-Crip-turned-MC proudly declares his own artistic designation: gangster rapper.
"I'm not one of them rappers that's scared to put a title on their name," Schoolboy Q told MTV News. "Conscious rappers never like to be called conscious rappers and a lyrical rapper never like to be a party rapper. I'm a gangster rapper, that's who I am. I happen to make fun records at the same time, that's what I do. I joke, I bag on n----s, my personality is like that, but I am a gangster rapper and that's what I'm gonna bring to the table."
Back in 1986, the seminal hip-hop group NWA pioneered the gangster-rap movement, donning all black while spitting in-your-face lyrics that were extremely explicit and dense with depravity, misogyny and crime. For years afterward, rappers who hailed from the West Coast represented the gangsta rap sub-genre to the fullest. It was their identity, their movement, ingrained in their DNA.
These days, though, the sound coming out of Cali is wholly different. Gangster rappers have become outliers or gone underground. With the forthcoming release of his highly anticipated debut LP Oxymoron, the South Central native plans to bring that unmistakable left-coast realism back to the mainstream.
"There's no more gangster rappers," Q said. "It's just trap music now. So I wanna get that old feeling back that I do naturally. I'm not necessarily trying to bring gangster rap back. I'm just trying to let you know it's still here and I'm a part of it. I feel like I'm the only one out of the coast that's doing this gangster rap sh-- the way that it used to be done...how n---as used to put detail in their music not just going to the club and turning up."
With quintessential reality rap songs like the pathos-laden "Yay Yay" and the Kendrick Lamar-assisted "Collard Greens," cooking up the airwaves like street pharmaceuticals in a Pyrex jar, the Habits & Contradictions MC is already making his case as the heir apparent to legends like Snoop Dogg/Lion, who released the all-time classic gangster-rap time capsule, Doggystyle.
"I'm just telling my story and what I grew up around and what I seen and what I did and I wanna put that in the light instead of everybody just smiling," the TDE spitter said. "Like Eminem said, 'Whatever happened to wildin' out and being violent?/Whatever happened to catchin a good-ol' fashioned passionate ass-whoopin' and getting your shoes coat and your hat tooken?'"
"I'm one of them n----s. Whatever happened to that? I don't want ni---s to get beat up or no sh-- like that, but at the end of the day, that is a part of life and I like that type of music. That's what pushed West Coast music to where it was at like when Dre, Snoop and all them...Dogg Pound, that's what they was doin' and that's what they was talking about and that's what I was raised off of."