Monday, 3 March 2014

Album Review: Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron

According to Oxford Dictionaries an oxymoron is “a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction (e.g. faith unfaithful kept him falsely true).”



On the face of it, Oxymoron is an album that falls right into Hip Hop’s stereo type: drugs, guns, drugs and women. But closer inspection reveals that this album is deeper than may first appear. The album takes the listener on a journey starting with the bad: “Gangsta” has one of the hardest Hip Hop beats that I’ve heard all year and is a brilliant way to start the album. The journey ends with a good ending; “Man of The Year” - one of Schoolboy Q’s slightly more commercial friendly songs.

“real niggas never tattoo they tears” - Schoolboy Q on “Gangsta”

The album’s premise is as Schoolboy Q puts it “bad equals good; like all the bad I’m doing to do good by my daughter. That was my goal back then.” There’s a lot of bad that seems to have happened, but the intention was always good as (according to Q).



Oxymoron is an interesting album, not least because of the concept behind it but also because most of the songs can be put in one of two categories: really good or really bad. Only two songs are exceptions to this; “What They Want" featuring 2 Chainz and the Raekwon assisted “Blind Threats” which is actually quite good but not good enough to warrant being called a highlight.

“Hoover Street” is reminiscent of Kendrick Lamar’s "m.A.A.d city” as it also features two beats and takes us back to the rapper’s early years. Much like Kendrick’s track the second beat on the song is the highlight, Sounwave’s production is in a similar vein to Oxymoron’s opening track “Gangsta”: gritty, hard hitting and head nodding Hip Hop at its best. If you’re only going to listen two a few songs from this album then let the second part of “Hoover Street” be one of them.

“Had roaches in my cereal
my uncle stole my stereo
my grandma can’t control him!” - Schoolboy Q on “Hoover Street”

“Los Awesome” was produced by Pharrell and depicts Schoolboy Q days a Hoover Crip gangster. The song sounds like a track that should have been included as a bonus track rather than being a prime slot on the album. Sonically “Los Awesome” is a mess, the song’s title must have been chosen sarcastically - surely. What a shame that Jay Rock’s appearance on Oxymoron is on this rubbish, especially after his show stealing verse on Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees”.


There are many references to Schoolboy Q’s drug habit with “Prescription/Oxymoron” probably being the best of them. It is another song that has two parts; "Prescription" discusses Schoolboy's addiction to prescription drugs. On the second part of the song "Oxymoron", Q is the dealer, representing both sides of the drug deal.

"Prescription drugs, I fell 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
When she don't come around, I start to go nuts" - Schoolboy Q on “Prescription/Oxymoron”

Schoolboy Q’s latest single “Break The Bank” is another gritty feeling banging track and would have been perfect for the Raekwon feature instead of “Blind Threats”. It’s hard to get the chorus out of your mind after hearing the song and that is what a good Pop song is all about.

"I just wanna smoke weed and sip lean by the quart, for real
Good weed, I hit that, crack rock, I sold that
Oxy, I hid that, right by my nutsack
Fuck pigs, I bust back, learned that from Deuce rap” - Schoolboy Q on “Break The Bank”



Ultimately though alot of Q’s collaborative songs are rather flat, take “Collard Greens” for example. The song has that bounce that you can instantly associate with Schoolboy Q but  unfortunately apart from this and the fact that it features fellow TDE label mate Kendrick Lamar “Collard Greens” has nothing good going for it. “What They Want" is fairly average and  Mike Will Made It’s production is the best thing about this song. The Tyler, The Creator produced “The Purge” easily one of the worst songs on the album and even features the following lyric by Schoolboy Q “fuck your bitch in front of yo’ children,” which doesn’t help.



BEST SONGS

WORST SONGS
"The Purge"


IN SUMMARY
Oxymoron is a hard album to rate because there’s so much here content wise, Schoolboy Q’s conceptual approach has to be admired and there’s alot of good music here but there’s quite a bit of bad too. Ultimately though if the bad can be forgiven (deleted or not purchased) then you will be left with a brilliant bunch of tracks.

RATING
Avoid Stream Recommend

Oxymoron is out on iTunes and you can stream it now on Spotify. Checkout Hip Hop is Read's hilarious GIF review of the album for an alternative take on Oxymoron.

Previously: Album Review: BeyoncĂ© - BEYONCE