After Kendrick blew up the West Coast and seemingly put T.D.E. on his back, his fellow label mates seemed to be getting overlooked. Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q had, up until that point, been known as the leaders of the collective. Now in the aftermath, there has been some rumblings of people, namely Q, feeling some kind of way about being considered part of 'Kendrick's Group' and disrespected by an industry that overlooked his skills and merits. Industry BS not withstanding, Schoolboy Q still has had a nice buzz in the West Coast circles with fans who were waiting for him to come out and drop in the wake of the West's newfound attention. Even as the South dominates headlines (see Boosie's release as evidence) and the East still fights to cling to some sort of relevancy, the California Coast has moved into a default second place position. It's in this atmosphere that Schoolboy Q releases his new album "Oxymoron".
The album opens with the West Coast funk fueled "Gangsta" with its brooding drums and bass and repetitive hook with the high pitched and almost helium-like voice. The bars and flow are unique and take some getting used to and the lyrics aren't spectacular but I like the song. "Hoover Street" has a live Wale type feel to the track as Q talks about being a real dude from the street and reps for his colors. The beginning two minutes of the song drag on before the beat changes up and gets more simple and hardcore and Q actually goes and spits that hardcore real street shit that some find popular as he talks about sticking up the ice cream truck. "Prescription/Oxymoron" has a heavy bass track where Q starts describing the feeling of being high on prescription drugs. The song then switches again and Q then goes to the other side of the equation as he raps about no longer selling crack and getting into the prescription drug game.
The initial single was "Collard Greens" with Kendrick Lamar. I can tell you this, I'm not sure what the song is about and the beat is aight, but I'm more familiar with it from watching Reality Star Deelishis dance to it on instagram (don't judge me). 2 Chainz is the feature on "What They Want" which is what I take as Q's attempt to simplify and mimic the southern style that's popular. At times the bass line bangs seriously but 2 Chainz should have done the hook. I just do not like the feel of "Los Awesome" with Jay Rock. "Blind Threats" featuring Raekwon is a solid if not spectacular track. "The Purge" features Tyler the Creator and Kurupt as a throwback song for the lyricists to just go in on a beat and rip shit but I expected to hear Tyler get to spit some bars. What should be out as a general radio friendly single is "Studio" with BJ the Kid where Q tells a woman he is trying to get to her but the song he's making is too much fire to leave.
"Break The Bank" is kind of the struggle song as Schoolboy tells us all he is about to blow and break the bank. "Man of the Year" is ok as is "Hell of a Night" which reminds me of one of Big Boi's old solo songs in the way it sounds. I'm not a fan of "Grooveline Pt. 2" with Suga Free that much but it does have a nice jazzy song. I could also do without "His or Her Fiend" with Sza. The album ends with "Fuck L.A.".
Schoolboy Q did nothing to make me feel like he could be more than a niche artist with this album. His intent seemed to be to show he is indeed a street certified rapper where he is to LA what Jeezy is to Atlanta. To an extent he is successful. The album is totally West Coast but it is less accessible than Kendrick Lamar though his flow is much easier to understand. Some of his cadences are awkward and he leaves weird spaces. While some of the new rap fans find that kind of stuff endearing and unique I find it corny and an attempt to try a bit too hard to force differences. I would have preferred more conventional moments though when he does have those they are alright. Songs where I was expecting a little more like with Raekwon became just plain. What I did notice was that Q is not a lyrical rapper. In the hierarchy I would put him behind Jay rock at this point. Overall I think fans will be satisfied though skeptics will still wonder why he is so beloved by some fans. Schoolboy served to create more questions than he answered with Oxymoron.