"Oxymoron", the third studio album by ScHoolboy Q, makes you want to blast it, driving around in your whip with the windows down, blunt in hand, chilling with the boys. It's the kind of album that you rarely get; the no-holds-barred rap where ScHoolboy goes wild on rhymes that come straight, unfiltered from his mind into the mic.
An important facet of memorable groups throughout hip-hop history is chemistry: the dynamics every member brings to the table is an essential part of a group's success. Black Hippy's rise to the top has been so prevalent and quick because each of their four main members - Ab-Soul, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar - each bring something radically different to what the crew represents. Going into Oxymoron, if you were waiting for lyrics that were societally conscious or on the third-eye of the mind or lyrics that you thought could inspire you to change your life, you've got Q's music pegged down wrong. Ab-Soul and (famously) Kendrick Lamar are the conscious rappers in Black Hippy; the role of partying, rapping about tits, ass and getting hands in the air is taken up by the inimitable ScHoolboy Q.
His latest studio album, Oxymoron, has hard-hitting beats produced by the likes of Pharrell, Clams Casino and Tyler, the Creator. Q might love getting girls to go "ass up, face down" but his ability to paint an image of growing up on Hoover street is so deft, his lyrics leave you with chills running down your spine. He depicts ice-cream truck stickups and his drug-addicted uncle ("Hoova Street") in the same laissez-faire attitude he does when he makes boasts about pimpin ("Grooveline Pt 2"). ScHoolboy Q sheds his party image a few times on the album and goes deep, allowing the listener into a hidden part of his life: his depression ("Prescription").
The seven-minute track, "Presciption/Oxymoron" is tremendous as Q spells out his depression, admitting that he ignores calls from his daughter and mother, but will always answer a call from his drug dealer. Q's young daughter, Joy, makes several appearances on the album, much like Hailie famously did on The Eminem Show. Joy is there to back her father and his lyrics, his domininance over the rap game and, at times, just to make sure he's alive and breathing. Joy's inclusion on the album exemplifies what Oxymoron is all about: that tight-walk between heaven and hell. Q's worldview comprises mainly of cynicism, something that takes up a large portion of Oxymoron as the LA-native depicts a harrowing childhood and a rough life in South Central L.A. But what stands out in this album is Q's ability to let a little light shine through the darkness of the entire album. He diverts away from his party anthems and his cynical rhymes to delve into his past and show a little humanity by admitting his past addictions, his harrowing childhood, the struggles he went through to provide for Joy. ScHoolboy Q doesn't want you to forgive him, he doesn't want to provide an excuse for his life, he just wants you to know about and understand his life, and how he got to where he is.
There's an abundance of features on the highly-anticipated album but that doesn't detract from Q's rhymes, only aiding the Oxy high, as the likes of Raekwon and Suga Free help Q groove along, while Tyler, The Creator's feature on "The Purge" is one of the smoothest choruses of the year. The two notable absentees from the album are Ab-Soul and A$AP Rocky (although he does appear on Target deluxe edition with "Californication"), both of whom have contributed to Q's albums in the past, helping him create the type of memorable tracks that people still reference today.
Simply because of the fact that both Kendrick and Q are part of the Black Hippy crew, Oxymoron will recieve comparisons to good kid, M.A.A.d city, but while fellow TDE rapper Kendrick painted the setting and scenes of the mad city, it's Q's description of being on the front-lines, of being in the very situations you would never want yourself in, of being the person you see on the street strung out on Oxy, that leaves you understanding Quincy so much better. ScHoolboy Q is diabolical, self- sabotaging, someone who loves the simple gratification of sex, money and drugs and doesn't worry about the consequences of his actions. At the same time though, Q allows you into parts of his life that he's never talked about before and deftly balanced partying with self-introspection on the same album, a feat few rappers have managed to do.