Shoolboy Q explained where his rap name came from, recalled his experiences with addiction, and broke down the themes and sequencing of his albums on NPR.
ScHoolboy Q released his major label debut, Oxymoron just this week, but he's been conceptualizing it for years. In an extensive interview with NPR, Q spoke at length about the themes and titles he chose for his albums in advance, the origin of his name, as well as his battle with addiction.
“Honestly, this album—if you look at all my albums, even the titles, Setbacks, Habits & Contradictions, Oxymoron, they play off each other’s meaning,” said Q. “You get what I’m saying? If you look at the covers. They all black and gray. Like all my albums is all—if I picture a color in my head of my albums, I would picture black and gray. For example, Kendrick last album. I would call that purple. Purple and like yellow almost. You know what I’m saying? But all my albums I feel like they always dark. It has that eerie little feel to it. But with this album—'cause Habits & Contradictions is like the prequel to Setbacks. Like I had all these titles already in my head. Like before I even dropped them. Setbacks I knew that was gonna be the first. I knew Habits & Contradictions. I knew Oxymoron. I got two more albums that I already have the title to and I know how I’mma play the theme.”
He later went into the origins of his rap name. “My name comes from a pimp named Schoolboy,” he said. “Like from my block. He’s a pimp. Well, used to be a pimp. He from my hood, too. He from Hoover. But that’s part of my name. But what my real name really came from was from me having a 3.3 in high school, GPA. But I was all into all this shit. You get what I’m saying? I was still an athlete, but my mom worked nights. And when she would go to work at night, I would leave. Cause this is about [the] time we moved across the street. So, my grandma wasn’t really monitoring me like that.”
While Q experienced serious addiction to prescription pills, he shared his issue with no one but Ab-Soul for some time. “I was addicted for like two years and I would never tell nobody,” he said. “Like none of my homies. I wouldn’t tell my girl. I wouldn’t [tell] my mother. Like nobody. TDE didn’t know. The only nigga that knew was Ab-Soul. He was the only nigga [that knew]. Kendrick didn’t know. I was his hype man. I was faded. It was crazy.”
Listen to the full interview below.