Unsurprisingly, LA native Schoolboy Q’s full-length, major label debut Oxymoron is an album full of contradictions – leading to a somewhat convoluted portrayal of both his past as a father-turned-dealer and current status as West Coast hip-hop’s newest thing. Emerging from the shadow of fellow Black Hippy member and frequent collaborator, Kendrick Lamar, has been a swift transition that Q seems to have taken easily in his stride; the rapper has steadily been accumulating an audience following their widely successful collaboration, Collard Greens. With the album receiving largely positive reviews (81, Metacritic) and boasting A-list production credits, I was curious to hear more from the California native.
Fuck rap, my daddy a gangster.
Q’s opening track, Gangster, clearly aligns him with the violent side of West Coast culture, explaining his involvement in prostitution, drug-dealing and gang warfare. The in-depth description continues in Pharrell Williams-produced, Jay Rock-featuring track, Los Awesome; though here Q comes up lyrically light in the wake of Jay’s brilliantly constructed third verse, with his fellow Black Hippy member rapping:
…false flagging like it’s all good / Tell niggas tee off like Tiger Woods.
Collard Greens, one of Q’s biggest successes to date, is a perfect example of the rapper at his over-the-top best. With an addictive beat and strangely catchy hook, Q’s second single is a no-holds-barred ode to debauchery, with Kendrick turning to Spanish for a multi-lingual verse filled with Kanye-esque claims to rap divinity.
However, even as an avid hip-hop fan, I found the majority of the album hard to enjoy and was annoyed with much of the same-y production. This was further complicated by Q’s often-aggressive delivery, which paled in comparison to the laid-back West Coast flows of Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (Snoop’s debut LP Doggystyle is frequently cited by Q as the inspiration behind Oxymoron). All too explicit for my taste though, and not even a close comparison to emerging New York talents like Joey Bada$$ and the Pro Era crew. Judging by the standard of Oxymoron, Kendrick Lamar remains, at least for me, the King of California.