Since 2012's Habits & Contradictions dropped, Schoolboy Q has caused me to politely leave conversations all along the eastern seaboard. When tasked with reviewing his newest album, Oxymoron, I couldn't help but audibly groan. In the last half of 2013 I felt that I endured the hype from every possible angle and on the list of things I don't give a stone cold shit about, Q found himself firmly lodged between 'Phil Selway's Folk Career' and 'Nail Art'.
By briefly glancing at the star-studded liner notes (Pharrell, 2 Chainz, Mike WiLL Made It, Raekwon) you can't help but feel that a truckload of money has been thrown into the creation of this album. After the monumental success of Black Hippy cohort Kendrick Lamar's debut album, Good Kid M.A.A.D City, Q's label T.D.E. must be anxiously hoping to bottle lightning twice.
However, unlike the effortlessly cinematic, Good Kid, Oxymoron's story-telling efforts only ever come across as forced. What vastly separates Schoolboy Q from Kendrick is his inability to be nothing more than literal. Instead of painting a vivid image, Q only ever hands the listener a crude outline.
On tracks such as Hoover Street Q comes off as nothing more than a third rate Slick Rick, clumsily recalling his uncle's drug issues over a grindingly monotonous beat. From listening to the first verse's opening line of "Find a nigga realer than me, my socks stink/eat so much pussy my moustache pink" to it's closing stanza "This little piggy went to market, this little piggy carry chrome" I sat gobsmacked. I honestly couldn't believe that someone recorded this, played it back to a room full of friends and was then completely satisfied with committing this to tape for eternity.
The Mike WiLL/2 Chainz assisted track What They Want isn't exactly a career highlight for the Georgian duo either. Considering this is a proven formula that has previously provided them both with multiple #1 records, it's outrageous that whatever natural chemistry they have is not even remotely captured on this forced collaboration.
Cringe-inducing slow jam Studio is given a fantastic pair of legs to stand on by the saccharinely sweet-voiced BJ the Chicago Kid. He is a talent who I honestly think should be as gargantuan as fellow Chitown soul kingpin R. Kelly. Unfortunately, Studio's strength is also its undoing — it is burdened with the curse of having hook that long overstays its welcome.
Album highlight The Purge features the truly inspired pairing of parental bogeyman Tyler, the Creator and OG Boogie-man, Kurupt, both exuding ice cold menace, over the top of production that can only be described as claustrophobically caterwauling. The stinging synth-lines and 8-bit boom-bap perfectly soundtrack this meeting between New West Coast and Old West Coast, and Kurupt closes out the track sounding the most energetic he's been in a long time.
Schoolboy Q never creates Oxymoron's memorable moments. For the full run time of this album he only ever rests his weight on the shoulders of the guests. Instead of ever attaching his personality to the music, Q just goes through the motions, serving up mediocre verse, ladle after ladle. In a vain attempt to create a blockbuster album, Q has given us an album that is just a barely cohesive Frankenstein's monster, haphazardly slapped together out of what is successful in rap at the present. Never looking forward or back, Oxymoron also completely fails to capture now.