Oxymoron Album Review
Released February 25, 2014
Genre: Hip Hop, Gangsta Rap, West Coast Hip Hop
Schoolboy Q has returned with his highly anticipated project that has succeeded to surpass all expectations. Oxymoron may seem like a pun to the word “oxy” as Q is known to rap about narcotics, but in this genius record, Q manages to fulfill the album’s name.Though Oxymoron isn’t Schoolboy’s first album, since he released Setbacks and Habits and Contradictions in 2011 and 2012 respectively, he manages to release something new and fresh and it seems to be a new beginning in his discography.
Schoolboy Q is part of the Top Dawg Entertainment conglomerate that consists of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Black Hippy, and others. But with Oxymoron, Q is fighting for the top spot, trying to “overthrow” King Kendrick, who released the monumental and cinematic album, “Good Kid M.A.A.D. City”, which rose Top Dawg and Lamar to subsequent fame. But what is so contradictory about the album Oxymoron? Well for one thing, the album cover is a divergent in itself as Q is shown wearing a ski mask and a bucket hat. Robbers and other delinquents are known to wear ski masks and to show that they don’t play around to display a menacing image. However, Q wears a bucket hat; no one really ever take people and hats seriously (like Pharrell for example).
This juxtaposition means nothing, really, but it serves to show that Q means funny business but throws in some serious topics as well, evident by the morose color hue on the cover. The contradictions don’t just apply to the artwork, but apply to the whole album. The appearance of Kendrick in the track “Collard Greens” adds to this argument, where both Q and Kendrick appear to be friendly and cooperative making up one of the best songs on the album. Honestly, how can you hate Lamar rapping in spanish?!
But on “Break the Bank”, Q tells Kendrick to “move from the throne”, throwing a complete curveball at the listeners; you wouldn’t expect an artist to collaborate with an artist from the same label and then later tell him to get out of your way. This just shows Schoolboy’s creativity throughout the album and brings up a reoccurring theme in the album:to remind people that he isn’t just “another” guy from T.D.E. and this is something Q has never done before. He also does the same, in a way, with 2 Chainz as the two of them make the song “What They Want” but Q calls out 2 Chainz in “Break The Bank” saying “B**** call me 2 Chainz, units be moving”.This isn’t a criticism but rather shows how he makes money like 2 Chainz. In “F*** LA”, Q doesn’t stop with the contradictions as it’s abnormal to call out your hometown when there are rappers that are proud to say where they’re from, evident from similar artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Lion, but this could also be explained as Q’s place of birth is Germany. Nonetheless, the album in itself justifies for the title very well, quite adequately in fact.
The album starts out with “Gangsta”. The word is obnoxiously repeated through the refrain while Q reminisces on his past and his relation to the 52 Hoover Crips and allows an insight on how he grew up and why he’s the man he is today. This gang-banging type of language is reiterated in “Hoover Street”. Q is sticking to his roots and there’s nothing wrong with that as most hip hop artist that come out of L.A talk about the same thing. Q also manages to pull off a lot of types of styles of rap which helps showcase his versatile talent as his collaborations range from all over the rap game.
From Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator to Wu Tang Clan’s Raekwon to Kendrick Lamar and even 2 Chainz, many guest MC’s appear on the record, showcasing a variety of artists, notorious for their marks made in the world of hip hop. Q evidently has no barriers when it comes to making something great and noteworthy from people you wouldn’t expect. The featured rappers aren’t the only ones that helped create a great project but the producers played a huge part as well. The Alchemist on “Break the Bank” helps create the “old school” type feel with the rustic piano and the beats layered on top along siren-like effects, to create that gangsta aesthetic. Though Q’s “la-la-la-di-do’s” do get bothersome after a while, the track is heated with a sick flow and lyricism that defines itself as one of the most noted singles before the album’s release, not to mention Schoolboy Q himself.
Tyler, The Creator’s style is also prominent in his production of Q’s “The Purge”. At the beginning of the track, it may confuse some listeners because for a while you might think that your iTunes information is messed up and accidentally switched to an Odd Future tracks with the descending noise of the sirens and Tyler’s repetitive cursing, but Q shines through regardless. “Man Of The Year”, conservatively samples a Chromatics track; packed with laced synths, fresh 808s and a booming bass, this track quickly becomes alive and assists Q in demonstrating his strengths, which he has been strongly showing throughout this entire album.
Overall, Schoolboy Q succeeds in accomplishing to justify the name of the album, showcase his talent, and show what he’s really made of, in order to let others know that the new chart topping artist of T.D.E. isn’t just Kendrick. Intrusively and as manic as he appears, Q will stop at nothing to get the props he deserves, with all the grit and glory that he can provide.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Collard Greens, Prescription/Oxymoron, Hell of a Night, Break The Bank, Man Of The Year, F*** LA
LEAST FAV TRACK: Los Awesome