If Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul are the lyrically conscious intellectual of the TDE camp, then Schoolboy Q is the one you call when you are trying to light one up, sit back, and just have fun while destroying a few brain cells in the process. However, like every partier or overly happy person, the chose escape from reality is a self-medicating method for a darker past or deep-seated issue that they have yet to overcome. The long awaited Interscope debut was proceeded by multiple solo projects that already gave many rap heads a taste of what dope-insanity they would expect to hear. Mixing some of the popularized rap-industry standards of rhyming about street-life, partying, and drinking, Q’s effort has the rare quality of giving listeners that ignorant stuff that saturates the radiowaves without coming across as corny or forced that give a deeper look into the life of a west coast emcee.
From the moment you press play, Oxymoron takes you on a musical journey into the real-life experiences of the former Crip and now father and top-selling rapper. Deciding to open with “Gangsta” is a subtle but effective touch to capture listeners into the dark, gritty vibe that Q is pushing over an addictive Nez & Rio production and catchy hook. While the Mike WILL Made it “What They Want” brings in 2 Chainz for a throwback 90’s west coast gangsta low-ride, trill jam, “Fuck LA” (Deluxe edition) channels that anger, street-vibe over an ominous beat. It is Q’s knack for lacing good-quality production with some well-placed lyricism and memorable choruses that make Oxymoron such a smooth listen.
The following Pharrell-produced “Los Awesome” is a taste of the nostalgic 2003 Neptune production that instills that party spirit. Keeping the mood light, but not losing any lyrical quality, as it’s clear that labelmate Jay Rock and Q are having fun with this. The party-spirit continues on the trippy, lead single “Collard Greens” ft Kendrick Lamar. While the Chromatics‘ sampled “Man of the Year” is one of the few tracks with no features that has Q only concerned with seeing titties, a$$, and hands everywhere. “Hell of a Night” is that commercial, post-pregame that is set to get the party started and keep it turnt till its over.
The decision to move most of the party tracks to the beginning set-up listeners to feel that Q is an approachable rapper as he later follows with some material that gets darker as it gets more personal. “Hoover Street” is a drum and guitar beat that switches up tempo as Q opens up more about his life growing up. Speaking on having a fiend uncle, being attracted to that gang-life, and growing up around a dark environment that still affects him to this day. The follow-up “The Purge” ft Tyler the Creator and Kurupt and “Prescription/Oxymoron” comes across as the rage and self-medicated escape from consciousness of a troubled life. Ultimately leading to “Blind Threats” ft Raekwon, a deep track that deals with moment of sitting down and pondering what else is left to escape to when all other options no longer work.
Trippy, street, chill, introspective, but still holding an element of fun, the long awaited Oxymoron has a little something for old and new fans to enjoy with some obvious radio-fillers for mainstream attention. It is clear that Q came with his A game on this project and it is well worth the wait and lives up to the buzz. The only fault in Oxymoron are the passable and forgettable attempts to turn Q into a panty-dropping, LL Cool J-type rapper on “Studio” ft BJ The Chicago Kid. The track is well produced with a seductive hook, but Q comes across with the subtlety of pre-pubescent teen and a stoner. It is more forced and generic than creative.
Although comparisons will be made to Kendrick’s debut, the two projects are only comparable in that they both are classics that will grow on you. Oxymoron doesn’t have the complexity and cinematic intro’s that good kid, M.A.A.D. City possessed, but it has those dark elements, angry rhymes, and fun frivolities that GKMC were lacking.
You can download and listen to the album, now via iTunes.