Tag Archives: Schoolboy Q

The case for Schoolboy Q as a top 3 lyricist in 2018

The case for Schoolboy Q as a top 3 lyricist in 2018

by Dan-O

I’m not doing the “he’s no Kool Moe Dee” all time argument with you Fuzzy Kangol Truthers. Save his place in history for later down the line right now we are talking about right now. The other thing to get out of the way is influence is not a factor. I don’t care that Trump did Hotline Bling on Saturday Night Live it doesn’t have anything to do with the power of the pen. Additionally, numbers don’t lie (they absolutely do) but they don’t have any bearing on this argument. That means this is subjective, right? Yes, not impossible.

Qualifying Criteria:

Consistency-People drive me nuts about this. Some MC’s are chasing the big moment and they always end up releasing terrible material eventually. Last year hip hop radio(looking at you Charlemagne) tried pushing the notion that Big Sean is one of the best MC’s in the game. Big Sean has two fabulous albums and two horrible ones. He is all over the place and I listen to everything he does. I like him but consistency matters, forethought matters. How many times you do you get to serve me a full bowl of wack and still be in the conversation?

Schoolboy Q is the opposite. Of his four albums he doesn’t have a disappointing one. All of them have different production identities, themes, and important lead singles that reflect Q at that stage of his career. As nasty and ready to turn on artists as Pitchfork is the last 3 albums scores Q has: 8.3, 7.8, and 8.4. If you are an album guy he consistently has got your back. If you don’t care about albums and just want the hits he feeds you Man of The Year, Studio, That Part, etc.

The four albums that are the core of TDE as an identity are probably: Kendrick- GKMC, Jay Rock-Follow Me Home, Schoolboy-Setbacks, Ab-Soul-Control System. Of those four artists Schoolboy is the only one who has kept pace with Kendrick in terms of albums you need to hear. Consistency isn’t about always working it’s about relentless careful smart work.

Content-John Muir(from Blank Face) has the most sumptuous neo-soul hook packed in against drug dealing at 14, close friends dying, danger closing in from all sides. The song is named after his high school and lasers in on that period. Meaningful content does not have to mean the smartest references or layered wordplay. The reason rappers always refer to their new album or song as a movie is because they want you , as the audience, to follow them through arc of the songs meaning. To the next one. Even  though Schoolboy knows people won’t pay that much attention the juxtaposition of the relaxing chorus and the ever present danger of verses is exactly the dichotomy of palm trees at 77 degrees and shocking violence that West Coast Gangsta Rap was built on. All of this to talk about and that is just one song. Schoolboy has a catalog that as you listen more each song gets deeper and gains meaningf. Q has struggled with addiction and let us hear it and now that he is beyond it (fingers crossed) we get even sharper bars. He builds every song on such a strong foundation he can add levels to it.

Durability-If you are a Schoolboy Q fan play this game with me. What is your favorite song? Pull it up on the tracklist of the album it is on. Is it the full throttle anthemic hip hop takeover Man Of The Year? If you are listening to the deluxe edition what is the next song? It’s the slow jangly mutilated but smooth (thanks to a brilliant hook performance by SZA) His & Her Fiend.  Schoolboy creates Juxtaposition everywhere. He places the crushingly personal John Muir before the bouncy West Coast celebration Big Body. His smoothest song Grooveline (with Dom Kennedy & Curren$y vibing out) comes right before his fire breathing dragon roar of a vocal performance on Gangsta in Designer (No Concept).  The juxtaposition creates tension yes but also dimension and he’s able to create that because he has tapped into the different facets of himself. Not to get too nerdy about this but if you go back to his 2009 mixtape Gangsta & Soul (You know my need to research forced my hand) his flow is totally different it is like listening to pre-Dre Eminem. He built this style and I appreciate his motor in refining it. His best album is his last album Blank Face.  Let’s talk more about this flow though…

Above & Beyond Attributes:

Tyson Flow-A knockout puncher has to make every connect count. Jabs just move the opponent to the right spot, Tyson was not even thinking about points on the scorecard. He was planting his victim in the right place for the right shot.That is how Schoolboy spits and always has. If you listen to the way his voice flings distasteful threats on the first verse of Dope Dealer from his 2016 album Blank Face  it is the same force he exerts on every line of Figg Get Da Money from 2011’s Setbacks.  Schoolboy says every word like a punk rock lead singer hitting their most jagged chorus.

Throw down mentality-The features on a Schoolboy Q album can get pretty interesting. Oxymoron Deluxe Edition(the only edition you should own) has Kendrick, 2 Chainz, Raekwon, Kurupt,SZA, Suga Free, Jay Rock, BJ The Chicago Kid, Tyler The Creator all along for the ride. Name another album that has 2 Chainz, Raekwon, and Suga Free spitting? The fearlessness in his flow has paid off to the point that Schoolboy fears none. This is where we say things like “being part of the best crew has given him the opportunity to be better as a lyricist,” I reject this. Ask Jae Millz how great his career growth has been behind Wayne, Dreezel Stillskin and the rest. It is HARD standing next to the dude who is considered the gold standard for bars. Q’s been doing it for ten years and gunning to a draw at the very least (I think he took Kendrick on Collard Greens) but he will throw bars with anyone and has. On Groovy Tony Jadakiss scorched the track so hard that Q added a whole other song behind the verse. He cares about the standard he has employed which is way more important than winning the song.

My conclusion is simple. I am not writing this because he has a new album coming and that could vault him into the “best in the game conversation” I hoped that this rant will prove he’s already there and this album will just be another leg of that journey.

 

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Song of the Year-Too Ill For The Law by Lakutis produced by HGHWND

Song of the Year-Too Ill For The Law by Lakutis produced by HGHWND

by Dan-O

One of the things I hoped to achieve with this site was NOT writing about Das Racist or anyone affiliated with it. The think piece generating insincere crew of moderately talented mc’s captured the imagination of people I am forced to nod respectfully at. As many words as were written about them the music wasn’t that big a deal, a lot of it was posturing and jokes that weren’t funny. My grumpiness aside, Lakutis dropped a lean twelve track mixtape called 3 Seashells which is powerful and straightforward and skillful.

This song is exactly what you would hope it’d be. He gives the cops a one finger salute, has someone drink a gun butt with a bullet chaser, and in general celebrates the havoc he so adeptly creates. HGHWND laces the perfect anarchy behind our orator full of weird chanting and huge thick booming drums. Lakutis has a dexterity to his flow that is captivating and he loves the word skeleton. While 3 Seashells does share a nihilistic outlook and celebration of drugs with Schoolboy Q’s Oxymoron album the latter is very different from the former. Oxymoron is meticulously organized mayhem while 3 Seashells feels like something that just bubbled up or burst from the earth.

The thing I like most about this song and what seperates Lakutis from the universal Das Racist narrative is the genuineness in the music. After you listen to this song you can picture him spitting beer at a security guard basking in his own fearlessness. A little shot of that staggering bravado is very valuable to my playlist.

Song of the year-Hell Of A Night by Schoolboy Q produced by DJ Dahi

Song of the year-Hell Of A Night by Schoolboy Q produced by DJ Dahi

by Dan-O

Every important boxer, important enough to have every other boxer wanting to fight them, had someone they just flat out didn’t want to fight. Sugar Ray Robinson ended his career with one hundred and seventy three wins but he did NOT want to fight Tony Zale. Sugar Ray Leonard captivated an entire generation and tricked Marvin Hagler out of his greatest moment BUT he didn’t want any part of Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor. Pryor walked around shouting with an entourage shouting hype, looking so powerfully confidently high off of cocaine that he would destroy anyone. The light welterweight from Cincinnati was a hurricane of hard punches from unseen angles and no matter how many times he shouted for Sugar Ray (usually in a post fight victory interview) Leonard wanted nothing to do with him. While The Hawk will never be remembered by the kind of accolades that Sugar Ray II will be remembered with, he’s one of those haunting figures. If you’ve seen him fight you’ll never forget it. Schoolboy Q is much more The Hawk than Old Dirty Bastard.

Hell Of A Night comes off Schoolboy’s sophomore album Oxymoron (since he doesn’t consider 2011’s Setbacks official). It builds on the power of Habits & Contradictions with disgusting imagery, violent gang stories, drug addled depression and bangers growled from the diaphragm (sometimes all happening at the same time). Q has voice alteration capability that I can only manage to compare to Aaron Pryor who left legendary opponents wondering where his punches were coming from. Q seems to have a thousand varations of his hoarse interjection flow that can make the saddest story of violence or child neglect as exciting as the most provocative brag. On a superb album this is the song I always click on first. Part of the credit is due to DJ Dahi for producing a beat epic enough to be the theme song for March Madness or the NBA Playoffs but the other half goes to a lyricist who I sometimes refer too as Wario. Meaning that if you consider Kendrick Lamar the Mario of the TDE crew than Schoolboy Q is his Wario, seemingly cackling his way through the life of a super-villain on every song.Schoolboy may never be THE guy in rap; next to people like Ye, Jay, and Ross(or even Kendrick) but at the very least he’ll be like The Hawk and I’ll always remember him yelling YAK! YAK! the way I remember Pryor pointing his lead glove at his opponent before the match and holding it until the bell rung.