If you were expecting Schoolboy Q to drop some sort of good kid, m.A.A.d city follow-up, then you don’t know Q.
On Tuesday (February 25), Top Dawg Entertainment released their second major-label album through Interscope. After Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-nominated, platinum-selling masterpiece, Oxymoron is something much different.
“F–k rap, my daddy’s a gangsta,” says Q’s toddler-aged daughter Joy at the top of the album opener “Gangsta.”
Q continues the conversation, beating his chest unapologetically and repeating “gangsta, gangsta, gangsta” in a menacing, child-like taunt. More than just street-empty bravado, Schoolboy spends the majority of the project laying out his story.
On “Hoover Street,” Schoolboy explains his loss of innocence, first rapping about Sega Genesis and Nintendo video games and then spitting about his grandmother’s pistol and drug-addicted uncle’s fall from grace. ” ‘Cause he been trippin’ now/ He sweats a lot, he’s slimming down/ I also noticed moms be lockin’ doors when he’s around,” a wide-eyed Q spits.
Schoolboy isn’t the first rapper to tell this particular coming-of-age story — not by a longshot — but it’s the details that Q sprinkles throughout Oxymoron that make the LP captivating. When rapping about his uncle, the Black Hippy MC recalls helping him cheat on a drug test as a child.
“He used to give me whiskey to piss in cups/ Knockin’ on the door to tell me to hurry up. He’s in a rush/ I gave it to him and got my ass whipped for doin’ it/ Moms used to tell me like, ‘n—a, know who you dealing with,’ ” he rhymes on “Hoover Street.”
With tracks like the Alchemist-produced “Break the Bank” and “Prescription/Oxymoron,” Q runs down his street résumé. There were crack sales, before he switched to selling pills like Oxycontin, but it isn’t all glorified.
On the first half of “Prescription/Oxymoron,” Schoolboy opens up about his own addictions to Percocet, Adderall, Xanax and codeine. The drug combination puts him in a stupor before his daughter comes to wake him up. “What’s wrong, you tired?” Joy asks him in the song’s ad-libs.
Oxymoron isn’t entirely introspective; Q also likes to have fun. He fuels his gangsta boogie with tracks like the bouncy “Collard Greens,” the celebratory “Man of the Year” and the electro-thumping “Hell of a Night.” He then competitively trades rap verses with the likes of Raekwon, 2 Chainz and Kurupt, and totally travels out of his comfort zone on the poppy, Pharrell-produced “Los Awesome.”
By the time the 15-track Oxymoron wraps, the uninformed quickly learn that Schoolboy Q is no good kid; his mad city had a drastically different effect. This is what West Coast gangsta music sounds like in 2014.