After many setbacks, ScHoolboy Q releases the highly-anticipated Oxymoron


Los Angeles-based rapper ScHoolboy Q finally released the long-awaited album Oxymoron on February 25, 2014. ScHoolboy Q, a member of hip-hop group Black Hippy with Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock, released the album with the intention of reviving the slowly fading gangsta rap sub-genre. Producers on the album include Nez & Rio, Sounwave, Pharrell, Mike Will, Tyler, the Creator, The Alchemist, and more. The album features rappers Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, Tyler, the Creator, Kurupt, and Raekwon, with vocals from BJ the Chicago Kid.

The album begins with the banger “Gangsta” where his 4-year-old daughter Joy proclaims “my daddy a gangsta.” The song’s instrumental, produced by Nez & Rio includes deep bass and piano; most notably, the song is littered with Q’s favorite adlib, “YAWK. Aside from gracing the album’s cover Joy actually plays an important role on Oxymoron. Joy has multiple vocal appearances throughout the album and appears as the topic of Schoolboy’s lyrics often.

Following the opener, “Los Awesome” has one of the best instrumentals on the album, an up-tempo, groovy beat that any hip-hop fan would know only Pharrell could produce. Some other quality beats include the up-beat club banger “Collard Greens” with Kendrick Lamar, or “Hoover Street”, which switches from a fast-paced bass guitar instrumental to a much more low-key, ominous beat midway through the song. “Persciption/Oxymoron” uses a muffled keyboard and other electronically produced sounds on the somber first half, while the second half of the song includes heavy 808-drums and resounding piano. Tyler, the Creator produces “The Purge”, which features an apocalyptic-sounding descending horn and quirky synthesizers, which Tyler is known for. Oxymoron thrives on ScHoolboy’s excellent beat selection.

While Oxymoron has its share of great production, some very mediocre beats on the album bring the overall quality of the record down. “What They Want”, produced by Mike Will, has a slow, monotonous keyboard loop which, while it complements featured artist 2 Chainz well, does not fit well with the gangster-rap sound Q is trying to convey. “Studio”, ScHoolboy’s attempt at a love song, has a heavy bass and a looped high-pitched vocal sample; again, the beat compliments featured artist BJ the Chicago Kid well, but does not fit ScHoolboy’s style or sound. The crooning vocals on the instrumental for “Hell of a Night” simply are not appealing on a song with one of the best drumkits of the year. Overall, these tracks do not subtract from the album tremendously, yet on a twelve track album, there is not much room for mediocrity.

ScHoolboy’s lyrics on the tape are far more introspective than anything listeners have heard before. ScHoolboy still brings the same braggadocios, gangsta rap lyrics that are obligatory in gangsta rap. Yet, on many tracks, ScHoolboy shows flashes of the same introspect fellow Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar thrives on. His most poetic song is “Prescription/Oxymoron”, where he tells his story of raising his daughter while addicted to drugs. “Prescription drugs, I fell in love/ my body numb, she gon’ kill a thug,” he raps of his addiction. He packs his verse on “Blind Threats” with plenty of entendres about his life as a drug dealer, like the sequence “life on the edge, hell a block away/ Pretty Snow White turned eight today/ selling that base, no Dr. Dre.” ScHoolboy appeals to the audience’s emotions while carefully ensuring that the album remains gangsta.

ScHoolboy caught the attention of many on his new album Oxymoron. The album contains many of his best songs to date. ScHoolboy tests the boundaries of gangsta rap with his many emotional verses while still staying faithful to the gangsta rap sub-genre. The album also contains some of the best production of any tapes released in this young year. Yet, for the months of anticipation and numerous setbacks which caused the album to be released almost a year behind schedule, it is slightly unsatisfying. Nevertheless, ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron is still an entertaining listen over a month after its release.