California rapper and Black Hippy affiliate ScHoolboy Q has finally released his first major label debut, and I couldn’t be more excited. Below I’ve written my initial gut reactions to each track from the iTunes deluxe version, fragments and all. Apologies in advance.
1. Gangsta – Q is a gangsta. It’s as simple as that. There’s a lot of yelling of “gangsta” and other phrases. Good to hear some guitar in there though, and I enjoy the intro by his daughter. Sets the tone for the album well.
2. Los Awesome feat. Jay Rock – Synths and some bass drive this beat. Felt pretty par for the course as far as today’s hip hop goes.
3. Collard Greens feat. Kendrick Lamar – This was one of my top 5 songs of 2013. Love the bass and how the song switches pace back and forth. Keep in mind to never listen to rap censored if you have that option. I’m on iTunes radio right now and this song was considerably worse with all of the unnecessary dead air.
4. What They Want feat. 2 Chainz – Beat’s a little eerie. Different is good though. Glad I forgot about the 2 Chainz verse later in the song. It’s not that it was bad at first listen, I’m just not a fan of 2 Chainz.
5. Hoover Street – This track’s hook plays a lot of background vocals and nuanced textures, which were interesting, but it didn’t take my mind off of Q’s gritty/whiny lead vocals on the chorus. Kind of annoying.
6. Studio feat. BJ the Chicago Kid – BJ’s feature is essential to this track. I think a rapper’s best tracks often come when they’re not singing the hook themselves. The instrumental is pretty standard itself. A chipmunk-pitched vocal sample is spiced in for good measure, channeling The College Dropout I’d had on repeat a couple weeks ago. I like this track.
7. Prescription/Oxymoron – The self-titled suite of the album. Prescription brings a slower, melancholic tone, and Oxymoron picks up the pace but remains quite dark. Really like the rapid hi-hat on this one. Unfortunately had to hit up YouTube for this one. Damn you, iTunes radio.
8. The Purge feat. Tyler, The Creator and Kurrupt – Every time I hear a track with Tyler on it, I swear the beat has his seal of approval on it. Very Odd-Futurey. Didn’t know what to think of the effect simulating sirens. They were semi-annoying on loop, but cool given the title of the song. It made me think of that sub-par film I never saw. Kurrupt keeps it grimy as usual.
9. Blind Threats feat. Raekwon – Why is “Wonderbra” a spelling correction for “Raekwon”? I don’t know. I like how I’m adding so many rap names to my dictionary right now though. Anyway, this song was leaning towards a classic-sounding beat, I liked the prominent click, and the features continue to impress.
10. Hell of a Night – With a title like “Hell of a Night”, there’s no surprise in the mood of the track. Even with a soothing, looping vocal sample driving the instrumental, the bass and Q’s chanting “Go. Go. Go. Go.” brought out the hip hop/dance vibes without having to use any lame David Guetta synths. Liked Q’s flow on this too.
11. Break the Bank – I like the piano in this instrumental along with Q’s emphasis on practically every word throughout, but I’m torn about the hook.
12. Man of the Year – I honestly love this song more than “Collard Greens”, but I was unfortunately sleeping on it until 2014. Love Q’s flow throughout the track, and the background vocals do so much more for me here than any other track. There’s a reason this song is his most successful single yet.
13. His & Her Friend feat. SZA – Ugh. It sounds like there’s heavy keys clanging together over and over again on top of this beat. It’s getting me to cringe a little. I’m not a fan of the pitched-down voice either. Meh.
14. Grooveline, Pt. 2 feat. Suga Free – Groovy is the best/only way to describe it. It’s called “Grooveline” for a reason.
15. Fuck L.A. – The instrumental had a a darker tone and was pretty industrial with the various cut-short sounds. Like.
16. Gravy – The hook had me bobbing my head back and forth, so it must be good right? I liked how Q sounded like another MC on the hook. It might have been an non-credited feature, but either way it sounded good.
17. Yay Yay – Much like “Gangsta”, a lot of the title was repeated in the hook. Oooh, and Q dropped a classic TDE, “YAH YAH YAH YAH” in there too. Gotta love it.
Overall, Oxymoron is definitely worth a couple listens if you’re into hip hop, and it would most likely grow on you. I can tell it’s going to grow on me. At the very least, “Man of the Year” is worth the price of the album. Bounce.