While Schoolboy Q isn’t exactly new to the hip-hop scene (this is actually his third album), Oxymoron is the first album that I’ve heard in full from the West Coast rapper.
Kendrick left me no choice but to make a classic record.
—Schoolboy Q (via Complex magazine)
While Kendrick Lamar is still making moves on 2012 release, Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, the spotlight is indeed on his TDE/Black Hippy fam to carry on with the success. Oxymoron did push more pre-orders than GKMC, so the anticipation from is there. Now let’s see how the album stacked up.
1. “Gangsta“: Oxymoron begins with Q’s daughter Joy simply telling listeners who her father is. (“Hello… Hello? Fuck rap, my daddy a gangster”) Q proceeds to do damage over the Nez & Rio track which instantly grabbed my attention: “Real gangsta niggas don’t have no fear, real niggas never tattoo their tears/Hopping out of vans, disturbing your plans, all hoodied up, no Wu-Tang Clan/Three J’s letting off through that Aryan, call that bitch 3 for 10/I’m fucking up the streets again, tags on the toes all amongst your friends”. Crazy way to begin the album.
2. “Los Awesome” feat. Jay Rock: Pharrell produced this track as Q brings along fellow Black Hippy member, Jay Rock along for a ride. The two labelmates don’t hold back on their L.A. upbringing. (“I’m just an Eastside nigga/Where them niggas say “Show you what it be like, nigga”/Roll ’em up, light ’em up like a street light, nigga/Follow me, I can show you what these streets like, nigga/Handle bars, ever swing, guns blow like dusty winds” – Jay Rock)
3. “Collard Greens” feat. Kendrick Lamar: I remember seeing this video on MTV2 in the wee hours of the morning and not forgetting Q’s bouncing head during the hook. This song really caught my attention when I was in Houston a few weeks ago and this kept getting spins on the dial, so naturally it stuck. Might have been a weed smoking anthem over the summer. Kendrick’s verse features a bilingual portion (“Ven aqui, mami, ese culo/Tu quieres cojer mis huevos, y papi me desespero/Chuparse puto pendejo, el pinche cabron”) as he raps about being famous while trying to bag a young lady.
4. “What They Want” feat. 2 Chainz: Is it me or is Mike Will Made It beats starting to sound similar? I wasn’t really feeling this track upon initial listening and as Q suggested, I’ll skip it.
5. “Hoover Street“: One of my favorites off the album as Q gives a narrative tale about his life up to this point. Things really pick up when the beat changes and Q raps about his Uncle that was addicted to drugs and would steal from the family. (“My bike is missing, grandma like to hide her check every month/My uncle’s nuts, he used to give me Whisky to piss in cups/Knocking on the door telling me to hurry up, he in a rush/I gave it to him then got my ass whipped for doing it/Moms used to tell me like “Nigga, know who you dealing with”)
6. “Studio” feat. BJ The Chicago Kid: (“All night laying verses though I’d rather lay with you, baby”) That right there is how most of us feel when we’re at work and we’d rather be just chilling with the lady. The song speaks for itself and those background vocals with the screaming is what makes the production stand out.
7. “Prescription/Oxymoron“: What was dope about this track is the perspectives that Q’s rhyming from: Drug User (Prescription) and Drug Dealer (Oxymoron). The “Prescription” part of the song sounds like Q’s been down this road before “Stuck in this body high, can’t shake it off/I’m falling off, I can’t hold a thought/What’s wrong with me? Now the pressure creep/I’m stressing deep, even in my sleep/My mommy call, I hit ignore/My daughter calls, I press ignore/My chin press on my chest, my knees press the floor”. The second verse shows what happens as a result of withdrawl: “Prescription drugs, I fell in love/My little secret, she gon’ kill a thug/My body numb, she like to give me hugs/I love her touch, I get a rush/When she don’t come around, I start to go nuts/My heart erupts, I’m curled in pain/My phone ring, ring and ring and ring/If you ain’t selling drugs, then I don’t hear a thing”. It reads like a narrative from many life stories. “Oxymoron” beings with an fiendish hook: “I just stopped selling crack today/I just stopped selling crack today/(What you say? What you say?)/O-X-Y, a moron, O-X-Y, a moron”. Verse two is what I really enjoy most about this portion of the track: “I prescribe you I’m your doctor, kay?/You can crush this shit, you can sniff this shit/You can take this shit, you can smoke this shit/Do you like this shit, nigga?/Your brain go numb, synthetic heroin/Without the injections, do the same love and affection/How could they say feeling good is an addiction?” From the lyrics alone, it seems as if you can view in real time, the story that Q is rapping.
8. “The Purge” feat. Kurupt & Tyler, The Creator: 1. I still think it’s cool that Q’s daughter Joy is the narrator for this album. 2. Who would have thought that we would have a song with Q, Tyler and Kurupt?! I remember when I wouldn’t even entertain listening to anything that Tyler, The Creator was apart of but now his production, verses and hooks have me interested. (“(Pow, pow, pow!) Coming in for yours/Niggas got them choppers and they knocking at your door/The sirens getting louder when the bodies hit the floor/Why you look confused? Mothafucka, this is war”) The vibe on this track is strictly west coast (although Kurupt is from Philly). Q gets off on this track: “Most niggas would’ve run away, but me I’m out here walking/Bucket hat with my shades on, my wardrobe look awesome/Now nah, I ain’t on no dolphin, fuck rhyming, I’m Cripping/Niggas rap about what I’m living, all this false claiming, I’m marring/Doing drive-bys I ain’t steering, white Peter Rose, I ain’t tearin'” Kurupt still has the skills that made him great during that run in the 90’s: Get a nigga smoked, I ain’t no joke/Tired of this bullshit and everything y’all talk about/They walked ’em in, I walked ’em out/They talked ’em in, I chalked ’em out/Now cock back that Oxy (Pow-pow, pow-pow)/Walking in South, pistols popping, top is popping off”. Great track right here.
9. “Blind Threats” feat. Raekwon: West Coast meets East Coast here. This sounds like an old Wu Tang track from the early days. What I enjoyed about Q’s verses on this record, is his honest approach in the conversation with God: “Soul need saving, Mr. Preacher/I know I only come around when it’s Easter/Funerals, Thanksgiving, Christmas time/When I’m in jail or when my card declined/Uh, will you answer me?” I was digging Raekwon’s verse as well: “Get out the way or let the shotty dispense/Revenge killers who make the events iller/This is more realer, snatch you right up out of the Benz/The Wu wheelers who huddle up, coupes knows the truth/You know the whoopty-whoop, solo or group, I kill niggas”
10. “Hell of a Night“: This a strong party track where Q is doing it up. I fucked with this track as well: “Uh, got the whole world tryna figure out Q/You can never find a nigga do what I do, TDE, I’m the nigga from the crew/Hit it one time, now she wanting round two/Ghetto chick, but I love them bamboos/No lean, but I chopped and screwed/She want a groovy type, bucket hat dude/Champagne pop, I’m about that life, molly gon’ pop, I’m about that life/Backwood toke, I’m about that life, living good, might not remember this night/World might end, so I’m living my life”
11. “Break The Bank“: This is another track that’s been out for a while (2012 to be exact), that I just started listening to. Now this track knocks and I mean KNOCK! (“Chucks on my young heel, make sure that my sag ill/Learn my set trip grill, trade in my big wheel/Good grades and skipped school, this life gon’ catch up soon/Sure ‘nough that shit did, 20 year old kid/Got off my behind, write me some sweet lines/Cause one day my story gon’ pay”)
12. “Man Of The Year“: Another video that I would see air on MTV2 during the early hours. But this caught my attention instantly. Then this also got much spin when I was in Houston. (“Nigga I ain’t come for the beef/You ain’t know she came for the skeet? Got pipe for the cheeks/Nigga, I’m the life of the beat/Fuck that, this year gotta eat, bounce for the crown/You be hating and I still hold it down/When you round man the girls never lounge, man I heard you a hound”)
13. “His & Her Friend” feat. SZA: Q’s rapping from the context of an oxy pill. Just say no kids. (“How you not like me? How you not love me?/How you hide your feelings?/You been hooked from the jump/It’s the first of the month/We be good for the week/Won’t last for the day, just right for the night/So right for your life/Let the truth be told, let it crush your goals”)
14. “Grooveline Pt. 2” feat. Suga Free: Q and Suga Free got those ladies on the stroll. If you’re into that life, this is the track for you. (“My pimping is game, cold limp with my cane, got gold on my chain/Come pinky my ring, it’s so blickety bling/On 51st and Figg, grew up about ten minutes from the real Ricky/Where the shoelaces is orange with H hats like we from Houston/Condoms in hoes’ purses with baby wipes for they coochie/You’s a ho that’s selling booty, no need to be acting bougie”)
15. “Fuck LA“: Closing the album, Q is telling listeners that he was living the street life and not portraying it on wax. Great way to end an album. (“I money make, AM out of state, call that wake and bake/Bring cookie sheets, dough boys on the beat, well known in the streets/I’m Crip for real, way before the deal, had them Oxy pills/In act we sell, straight from Murderville, yeah, we served a lot/Left days on blocks, got them tens in socks, nah-nah, not talking shoes/I’m talking rocks, had the dopest spots, look out for the cops/My mini-me, snatch the dope and flee, guess thats how it be when you OG/He said he lived through me, but I’m stacking mills/I’m speaking real, shock the world for real, pull up in that ill”)
After a few listens, Oxymoron is another winner from the TDE camp. Production, lyrics, flow are the elements that make this album click in place. I’ll make an effort to check out Q’s previous releases as well. And please, no comparisons to Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.