In the rotation: Review of ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron


By: Derek Beaven (Staff Writer) and John Wyatt (News Editor)
It’s difficult to say that ScHoolboy Q and his bucket hat have been in Kendrick Lamar’s shadow, but it’s even more difficult to say that TDE became a household name for reasons other than Good Kid M.A.A.D City. ScHoolboy Q debuted in 2011 with Setbacks, and though his second release, Habits and Contradictions, came out nine months before Lamar’s breakthrough, the album flew largely under the radar, receiving good reviews but little airtime.

Cue 2014, and TDE is riding on the most momentum any hip-hop collective has seen in a while, with all eyes and ears fixed on ScHoolboy Q’s newest release, Oxymoron. After several delays, eased with the release of a few of the album’s singles, ScHoolboy Q’s album finally hit shelves on Feb. 25. In their first music review column, In the Rotation, News Editors senior Derek Beaven and junior John Wyatt review Oxymoron.

Beaven: I first heard about ScHoolboy Q because of his track “THere He Go,” in which he coupled Menomena’s jazzy, looping song “Wet and Rusting” with some insanely catchy lyrics. Hearing Habits and Contradictions and then Setbacks quickly solidified ScHoolboy Q as one of my favorite rappers and I was very excited to find he had a new release on the way.

Overall, Oxymoron is a good album. As a whole, it’s is much more accessible than his previous releases, though ScHoolboy Q maintains his darkly introspective style and uncanny knack for finding samples. Tracks like “Man of tHe Year” and “Collard Greens” are already receiving airtime thanks to the choppy beat and flow that ScHoolboy Q does so well.

Certain tracks like “Studio” ring heavily of the old ScHoolboy Q from Setbacks while others cross the line into a more aggressive rapper, one who is taking his niche within TDE and running with it.

Perhaps no track on the album exemplifies this evolution more than “Prescription/Oxymoron.” The track begins with the kind of wandering beat and honest lyrics that have exemplified ScHoolboy’s career thus far, but halfway through, he switches to a more aggressive beat and flow, ushering us into ScHoolboy’s new style.
I’ll give the album a 7.5/10. It’s a solid listen with great production and good samples, but I do miss the schizophrenia of Habits and Contradictions and the laid back attitude of Setbacks. Favorite tracks: “Break the Bank,” “Prescription/Oxymoron,” and “Studio.”

Wyatt: ScHoolboy Q has repeatedly said he wants the same success fellow Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar has seen the past year. Back in the summer, Kendrick declared himself the “King of New York” and “Machiavelli’s offspring” on Big Sean’s unreleased song “Control.”

When I first played Q’s new album, I instantly thought back to the aggression of Kendrick’s verse when he declared himself one of the greatest rappers ever. Q’s opening track “Gangsta” opens with a loud, aggressive hook over an airy, moody piano sample. There’s a new (or at least stronger) sense of aggression in ScHoolboy across the album, and “Gangsta” is a prime example of that.

Not long after the aggressive opening track is the song “Collard Greens.” In the album’s most radio-accessible song, Q raps over a progressive beat, with a pushing bass line produced by a trio of TDE’s in-house producers.

One song that I think a lot of people will overlook is “Blind Threats” featuring Wu-Tang legend Raekwon. The two rappers drop verses over a sample from jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, creating a smooth, head-nodding jam.

Towards the end you can find my favorite song, “Break the Bank.” Q raps over a simple piano melody layered on top of a heavy, boom-bap drum beat. The song is both a look back on ScHoolboy’s past as well as a look forward towards his rap career. Halfway through the song, ScHoolboy makes a declaration to Kendrick, claiming to move from the throne he came for.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I’ve always been a fan of Black Hippy and TDE, but ScHoolboy Q was the one rapper I was always iffy on. I can say without a doubt that this is his best work. While others would try to compare it to ScHoolboy’s previous release Habits and Contradictions, I see Oxymoron as ScHoolboy Q’s finding his niche in Black Hippy as the gangster, hype rapper of the group, and Oxymoron shows him flourishing in that role.

I’ll give it an 8.5 out of 10, as it shows Q flourishing in a more aggressive flow, while still mixing in the airy, introspective flows he built his name on. The production on this album is spot on to me. This is Q’s most accessible album to date, leaving both newcomers and die-hard fans satisfied. Favorite tracks: “Collard Greens,” “Break the Bank,” and “Blind Threats.”

Q’s opening track “Gangsta” opens with a loud, aggressive hook over an airy, moody piano sample. There’s a new (or at least stronger) sense of aggression in ScHoolboy across the album, and “Gangsta” is a prime example of that.

Not long after the aggressive opening track is the song “Collard Greens.” In the album’s most radio-accessible song, Q raps over a progressive beat, with a pushing bass line produced by a trio of TDE’s in-house producers.

One song that I think a lot of people will overlook is “Blind Threats” featuring Wu-Tang legend Raekwon. The two rappers drop verses over a sample from jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, creating a smooth, head-nodding jam.

Towards the end you can find my favorite song, “Break the Bank.” Q raps over a simple piano melody layered on top of a heavy, boom-bap drum beat. The song is both a look back on ScHoolboy’s past as well as a look forward towards his rap career. Halfway through the song, ScHoolboy makes a declaration to Kendrick, claiming to move from the throne he came for.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. I’ve always been a fan of Black Hippy and TDE, but ScHoolboy Q was the one rapper I was always iffy on. I can say without a doubt that this is his best work. While others would try to compare it to ScHoolboy’s previous release Habits and Contradictions, I see Oxymoron as ScHoolboy Q’s finding his niche in Black Hippy as the gangster, hype rapper of the group, and Oxymoron shows him flourishing in that role.

I’ll give it an 8.5 out of 10, as it shows Q flourishing in a more aggressive flow, while still mixing in the airy, introspective flows he built his name on. The production on this album is spot on to me. This is Q’s most accessible album to date, leaving both newcomers and die-hard fans satisfied. Favorite tracks: “Collard Greens,” “Break the Bank,” and “Blind Threats.”


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