After attending a pre-listening performance of Schoolboy Q’s “Oxymoron” album hosted by Sonos Studios, DanielleDorky.com’s resident hip-hopologist Tony Breckenridge offers a dissection of the Los Angeles rapper’s debut concept album, one that he claims could be the revival of the gangsta rap genre.
Artist: Schoolboy Q
Album: Oxymoron (Deluxe) [Explicit]
Record Label: Top Dawg Ent.
Genre: Rap, hip hop
Release date: 2/25/2014
Stand out tracks: “Blind Threats” “The Purge” “Hoover Street” “F*ck LA” “Gangsta”
Dorkproval rating: [Rating:9/10]
Be prepared. Today, a Hoover Crip has taken over the United States of America. It wasn’t by blunt force, intimidation nor violence. We asked for it. And waited. And today, Schoolboy Q dropped Oxymoron, his widely anticipated, constantly delayed studio album. In this concept album, Q details his life as an ambitious OxyContin dealer from off Figueroa (or “Figg Row” as Q lovingly calls it).
Historically, gangsta rap is a genre defined by a certain sound, a certain style and a certain stereotypical propensity towards exciting violence. Conversely, Q doesn’t glorify violence once but doesn’t forsake the gritty realism of his former life. Q is honest. Like label mate Kendrick Lamar, he’s merely maintaining that he is a product of his environment. Only difference now, his environment is rap. He approaches rap with the same tenacity, ruggedness and determination that a street dealer needs to have to survive. Q raps for the sake of his daughter, his savior. Never having had taken rap seriously, he turned to the pen to provide a secure life for Joy without risking a 3rd strike.
A week before his album dropped, Schoolboy Q hosted a listening party at Sonos Studios to preview tracks to the media and fans who had preordered the album. In true Q fashion, he silently and surprisingly walks through the crowd with hugs and handshakes for fans and an ever present blunt in his mouth – just oozing with LA authenticity. Larger than life and smaller than I imagined, Q easily looks like he’s not phased by stardom evidenced by a nappy beard and hair that could put Chiwetel Ejiofor’s recent performance to shame. Halfway through his blunt, my life changed.
Firstly, no one expected Raekwon to be a guest. The Chef and Q team up for “Blind Threats”. There are very few rappers that I believe sold drugs. They just happen to be on a track together using their wordplay to paint their world. Introspective, honest and nostalgic with no detail spared, this cut is truly an oxymoron. People oftentimes forget that just because a place is not aesthetically beautiful that doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t esoteric beauty about it. Next, as if Raekwon wasn’t enough, Kurupt is next to bless the stage (remember that line about LA authenticity) to preview Tyler the Creator- produced “The Purge”. This true G Anthem hits hard and Q spits tough in his abrupt and deliberate delivery, as if to remind you he’s still a lyricist too. Kurupt, on the other hand, killed the game with one line. “It’s Kurupt Young muthafucking Gotti / Still rollin’ in a 6 I don’t fuck with the Bugatti”. I’m sorry. For a second I did forget that 2 real G’s were on the stage.
Surprisingly, Q ends with a song aptly titled “Fuck LA”. Admittedly, I was surprised by the song title until the Chorus hit: “Pussy lips, contraband for chips, sold all kinds of shit / Hoover Crip, guns on fingertips, switched all kinda clips / 50 raised, since my county days, brought all kind of fades / Renegade, fuck what rappers say, bitch, I am LA”. With a sea of fans hanging on to his every word, I agree with him. The true appeal of these TDE artists is their ability to construct a gripping narrative set in the hood opposed to a hood narrative. I have never sold drugs in my life (consumption is another story). Yet, I relate to the angst, the pain and the desolation that comes from surviving in an area like South Central. Q’s gift is approaching it with charm and charisma. For Q, it’s not so much the story being told as it is the storytelling. And believe me, the ghetto never sounded so good.
Written by Tony Breckenridge