ScHoolboy Q Dark and Polarizing On ‘Oxymoron’
Oxymoron proves to be a dark, captivating, yet sometimes difficult album to listen to
ScHoolboy Q “keeps it 100” on Oxymoron. At times, Oxymoron is polarizing. Frank, Oxymoron isn’t endearing because it’s grimy and raw. ScHoolboy Q places emphasis on his machismo, his demons, and a trying, difficult life. As always, the rap album (his third) serves as the ultimate ‘come-up’, with the rapper’s daughter playing a central role in the life-changing experience. Ultimately, Oxymoron, an album that is confounding yet impressive, ends up showing the range of abilities of the rapper. It’s not perfection realized, but there are plenty of exceptional moments working toward that goal.
ScHoolboy Q is a “G” from the get-go, as his daughter asserts on the intro of “Gangsta”: “Hello…hello? F*ck rap, my daddy a gangster.” If the idea of being a ‘gangsta’ wasn’t firmly planted, ScHoolboy Q ensures on the hook he repeats it a million times so that you know his status. While merely stating a description of himself wouldn’t make him a ‘G’, Q backs up things with brash rhymes that he spits over incredible production work. He also asserts he’s a pimp…he gets it in, easily.
As much as a bang “Gangsta” is, “Los Awesome” is better, sporting more agile rhymes and sick production courtesy of none other than one ubiquitous Pharrell Williams. The hook slays from a first listen:
“I’m a groove type n**ga, rather two-step with you / pants sagging, rag dragging, rather gangbang with you / triggers squeeze, throw a palette, throw them thing-things with you / hot degrees, anti-freeze, chilling cool-cool with you…”
Q doesn’t stop on the hook, spitting fire throughout the verses:
“Looking like a reaper in your driveway / strays through your living room / liable to drive-by on a summer day / July 4th will be in June…”
Jay Rock assists, complementing the violent tilt.
“Collard Greens” follows in top-notch form. From the opening groove to the infectious hook, “Collard Greens” is quite distinct.
“Oh, oh luxury / chidi-chidi-ching could buy anything, cop that / oh, oh, collard greens / three degrees low, make it hot for me drop that”
ScHoolboy Q is on autopilot. Kendrick Lamar captivates on the second verse, speaking Spanish performing gun sound effects. Lamar’s best line:
“I’m more than a man, I’m a God, b**ch, touché, en garde.”
Stoners and non-stoners alike can indulge in the greatness of “Collard Greens” – the song itself that is!
When 2 Chainz is featured, expect perversion and stupidity. “What They Want” doesn’t go too dumb, but is expectedly driven by sex. The hook sums up Q’s intentions:
“This the shit that they want / this the shit that they need / tell me where are you from / drop you pants to your knees, girl I’m capital G…”
Even so, Q has moments (“Might cop the Phantom, get ghost…”). 2 Chainz is blasphemous:
“Oh Lord, she in Christians, all gold on my Adventist / pull it down and she kiss it, all gold where my wrists is.”
“Hoover Street” is difficult. Q expresses a story filled with insight, but not relatable to everybody. “I got that work, f*ck Labor Day, just bought a gun / f*ck punching in, throwing rocks, no hopscotch / Bet my 9 milli hit the right spot,” he spits on the intro. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the narrative of “Hoover Street” comes on verse two:
“Gangbanging was a ritual and grandma would help / should’ve never left her gun on the shelf.”
“Studio” is a bedroom joint, featuring BJ The Chicago Kid. Rather than focusing on shooting someone or violence, Q thinks with his pants, changing pace from the violent “Hoover Street”.
“Prescription/Oxymoron” is an exceptional two-parter. “Prescription” is all about being on drugs. Q references addiction:
“Prescription drugs, I feel 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.”
The lyric doubles as a sexual reference. Q is clearly under the influence of drugs. “Oxymoron” is truly an oxymoron as Q spits, “I just stopped selling crack today…O-X-Y, a moron…” Q’s been addicted to drugs, as well as sold drugs.
“The Purge” is a beast, produced by and featuring Tyler, The Creator. ScHoolboy Q’s daughter establishes the tone: “My daddy said drown, n**ga.” The significance of the line seems to be “the purge.” “Coming in for yours / n**as got them choppers and they knocking at your door,” Tyler, the Creator spits. He continues:
“The sirens getting louder when the bodies hit the floor / why you look confused? Motherf*cker this is war.”
ScHoolboy Q plays into the malice, referencing kilos, drug money, and guns.
“Bust my gun all by myself / rock cocaine all by myself / poured propane all on myself / go so hard might harm myself.”
Also worth noting, Kurupt guests on the third verse. “The Purge” goes hard.
“Blind Threats” but lacks the oomph of “The Purge,” despite a guest appearance from Raekwon. Still, “Aim that, shoot that, pledge allegiance / kill mine, kill yours, make it even / soul need saving, Mr. Preacher…” is an awesome lyric. “Hell of A Night” feels ‘looser’. ScHoolboy Q doesn’t give up on street savvy. Q does have some fun, popping bottles, and “making it do.”
Penultimate cut “Break The Bank” remains ‘street-smart’:
“My time to show out, finally the illest Crip / and I guarantee, I spit harder than concrete.”
“Man of the Year” concludes superbly with more accessibility. Q doesn’t forget his roots:
“Fast forward getting real tell me now / every dog need a cat to meow, every once in a while.”
Q continues on:
“I see hands in the crowds / see whites, blacks blazing a pound, jumping around…”
He’s the ‘man of the year.’ A unified fan base exemplifies a mighty come-up.
All in all, Oxymoron is a fine introduction of ScHoolboy Q to many. He shares what life has been like for him before becoming an up-and-coming MC in the rap game. He’s honest, and seems to adhere to a no BS approach, which is something not all major label MCs can attest to. Still, there’s a lot of grime and brutal honesty to sort through at times, which might be something ScHoolboy Q may want to better balance out on his fourth studio LP. Still, Oxymoron is well played.
Gems: “Los Awesome,”“Collard Greens,” “Prescription/Oxymoron,” “The Purge” & “Man of the Year”