Schoolboy Q’s Debut, ‘Oxymoron,’ Comes Through
Meghan Cleary | Monday, March 24, 2014
ScHoolboy Q’s newest album, “Oxymoron,” rounds out the trifecta of Q’s musical output over the past four years. After giving the entire album a good listen, there was a perplexing response. Many of the songs satisfied me individually. ScHoolboy Q displayed a very definite ability to create an expansive spectrum of sound within his genre; however, this was the uprising and downfall of this album. Although songs were individually enjoyable and well-made, there was no sense of ScHoolboy Q establishing a “signature.” Q featured many identifiable artists, such as 2 Chainz and Tyler, the Creator who also produced the track he on which he is featured along with fellow Black Hippy members Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. Without looking at a tracklist, these featured artists can easily be identified, whether it is through the raspy tones Kendrick exudes or the production tone that Tyler, the Creator presents from the beat off of “The Purge.” ScHoolboy Q’s ability to make great music with whomever he works is commendable, yet it left me hanging to find any idea of what the real ScHoolboy Q sounds like.
The introduction track of the album is “Gangsta,” in which Q takes the opportunity to embellish on a message frequented in hip-hop: drugs, women and fame. The beat is standard, with the simple piano and drum sequence that takes us through a nostalgic feeling opposed to the futuristic and electronic-influenced style of hip hop we see develop later on in the tracklist.
Next we are presented with “Los Awesome,” which features Black Hippy artist Jay Rock. Pharrell produces the track, which was surprising, to say the least. Considering Pharrell’s recent release of the disco-esque and light-hearted album “G I R L,” this track takes on a very upbeat but intense persona. Although the sound of the song is enjoyable, delving into the lyrics of this song shows no surprises. The lyrical content with which the album began merely continues on, unchanged.
A notable change of pace in the album was when “Studio” came on. This track, featuring BJ the Chicago Kid, is much less focused on timely tough-imagery and much more focused on bringing forth the message of sensuality through heavy bass and vocal background, which takes us back to the days of Twista’s “Slow Jamz.” This vibe, alongside “Grooveline Pt. 2,” a track featured later in the album and a follow-up to “Grooveline Pt. 1” from Q’s previous album, is a surprising yet pleasing change of pace for the listener.
Then we have songs such as “Hell of a Night,” “Man of the Year” and the promotional single, “Yay Yay.” All three of these songs have very similar bass-dense and futuristic sounds, which keep a lower beat-per-minute strong with the support of a consistently present hi-hat. Although each could certainly be considered a “crowd-pleaser,” there is little variation between their lyrical content and, specifically, the beats themselves.
Overall, there was seldom a track that disappointed me. Songs like “Hoover Street” and “Prescription-Oxymoron” kept beat variation amidst the songs that West Coast rap has stayed so true, i.e. Kendrick Lamar in tracks such as “m.A.A.d city.” ScHoolboy Q delivered an album that is not by any means difficult to enjoy. Q has proven his ability to be versatile and work with many different genres. There are high hopes that future work will establish a firmer grasp on what ScHoolboy Q considers to be “his sound.”