Album Review: Schoolboy Q – Oxymoron

With his third studio album released on 25th February, LA rapper Schoolboy Q is, perhaps, one of the most anticipated hip-hop artists of 2014. ‘Oxymoron’ has been highly awaited by the hip-hop community for a while now, with multiple delays to its release, and extensive amounts of promotion – from every member of Top Dawg Entertainment talking about it, to a steady flow of single releases.

The first song to be released by Q in the leading up to Oxymoron was ‘Yay Yay’, in March of 2013. This song, depicting Q’s drug-heavy past, was released not as a single, but simply “a record we put out there”. However, the first confirmed single of the album was released in June of 2013; entitled ‘Collard Greens’, this energetic, bouncy song was produced by American production team, and in-house producers for TDE, ‘THC’. Although not my favourite song, it definitely set a high level of anticipation for Oxymoron’s release.

The second single to be released was ‘Man of the Year’, and was initially part of NBA Live 14’s soundtrack, but was finally released in November of 2013. This euphoric track was produced by Nez & Rio, who also produced one of Q’s earlier songs, ‘Druggys wit Hoes Again’. The third and final single was released January of 2014, and was entitled ‘Break the Bank’. This dark-sounding tune was produced by The Alchemist, and was initially recorded in 2012.

The intriguing thing about Schoolboy Q is that he sounds different in virtually every song he creates; there is no consistency with his flow, or tone of voice, however this is not a problem; although there is no technical consistency, the album does not feel broken up or jumpy, at all.

The introductory song, ‘Gangsta’, is very fitting for setting the overarching tone of the album. It lets the listener know of Q’s past instantly; through both his lyrics and production. The production of the song is viscous, hard-hitting and very appropriate for the title ‘Gangsta’. The next song to play, ‘Los Awesome’, was produced by international hip-hop, and general music star, Pharrell. Featuring Jay Rock, this track is of a much more up-beat nature than ‘Gangsta’, however still allows for a vigorous sound to be presented.

The song ‘Prescription/Oxymoron’ features a slightly two-sided tone; the first featuring an oddly ironic, light-hearted sounding beat, featuring talk of Q’s depression and dark past, ending with a sample of Q’s daughter, saying “what’s wrong daddy” and “wake up” – with the second part sounding much more devious and dark, perhaps taking influence from Eminem’s narrative-style. The production of this second part is exceptionally hard, with an eerie dark piano undertone playing throughout.

Other notable songs in the album are ‘The Purge’, featuring and produced by Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator, in addition to having a feature from The Dogg Pound member Kurupt, conveying a very Tyler-esque production style, with Q’s energetic flow over the top, accompanying it. ‘Break the Bank’ is, perhaps, one of the best, most energetic songs of the album. Featuring a repetitive, haunting piano in the production, Q’s dark-sounding flow and delivery is appropriately complimentary. The final song on the album, ‘Fuck LA’, is a personal favourite of mine. The production is excellent, and everything a hip-hop-head might want from a hip-hop album; a heavy beat and passionate, harsh flow.

This album most definitely lives up to expectation. The production is heavy throughout; very fitting for the tales Q tells about his drug dealing, drug taking, and gang-affiliated past. Note-worthy songs on the album, apart from the songs already named, are ‘Blind Threats’, featuring Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon, and ‘What They Want’ featuring 2 Chainz.

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