warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

ScHoolboy Q: 'Oxymoron' Album Review

Ashley Velez |
February 22, 2014 | 3:12 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Q's album cover features a photo of his daughter. (Wikimedia)
Q's album cover features a photo of his daughter. (Wikimedia)
ScHoolboy Q’s highly anticipated major-label debut album has been leaked. Although Q has done everything in his power to avoid early distribution, ‘Oxymoron’ leaked just a few days before the official release date of February 25th. (Ed. note: it's now streaming in full on iTunes Radio.)

The hype has been building around his third album for almost two years. Fans have been feverishly awaiting its release, especially after Mac Miller declared that it would be a better album than K.Dot’s "good kid, m.A.A.d city."

ALSO READ: 10 Buzziest Crossover Black Rappers

Although "Oxymoron" took listeners back to the '80s and '90s with the “gangsta rap” hip-hop subgenre, it does not compare to the hip-hop gold that is "good kid, m.A.A.d city." Q has never and will never sound like his label-mate Kendrick Lamar.

While Kendrick is more of a creative and poetic lyricist, ScHoolboy Q’s style is not for the faint of heart. Q does not try to relate to his fans on his songs; rather, he spits verses that serve as a testimony to his real life growing up on the streets of South Central L.A. He is honest about his previous gang affiliations and his struggles with selling and taking prescription drugs, both of which play major roles in the record.

The three hits that immediately stand out on the album are the previously released singles, "Yay Yay," "Collard Greens" and "Man of the Year." Anyone can bounce to these tracks and they did their job in creating hype around the album.

"Yay Yay" is produced by Boy Wonder, and is one of the realest songs on "Oxymoron." Q revealed during a listening session with New York’s Hot 97 that this single will only appear on certain versions the album. Kendrick Lamar is featured on "Collard Greens," a song that gained major popularity in the summer of 2013. The hot beat and clever lyrics make this song easy to love and those who enjoy the greener things in life will definitely appreciate this track. Q kept up the momentum with "Man of the Year," which is a fun and cocky song with plenty of suggestive lyrics and innuendos.  

Alchemist produced "Break tHe Bank," one of the hottest songs on the album. After listening to it the first time, it is easy for the listener’s immediate reaction to be “this goes hard.” The track is dark and ominous with a heavy '90s vibe.

It is a perfect example of Q’s personal style. He stirs up controversy with his label-mate when rapping, “Tell Kendrick move from the throne, I came for it,” and what hip-hop head doesn’t appreciate some friendly competition?  

The next standout is "Blind THreats," featuring Wu-Tang’s own Raekwon, where the East Coast and West Coast come together to make a deep track with many biblical references. The theme is similar to "Sacrilegious" on Q’s previous album "Habits & Contradictions," both which bring him to question his spirituality because he finds himself “trappin’ tryna make it out this obstacle” on a daily basis. ScHoolboy Q spits two verses and passes the mic to hip-hop legend Raekwon, who did his thing as usual.  

ALSO READ: Rock The Bells Rap Music Festival Rocks The San Manuel Amphitheater

If those songs go a little too hard for your personal taste, BJ The Chicago Kid helps Q switch up the mood with a smooth track called "Studio." Q and the Chi-town native describe the feeling of being lifted in the studio and only wanting that one person around. This song has a melodic vocal loop in the background and easily puts the listener in a sexy and relaxed mood. 

Although "Oxymoron" has a few undeniable bangers, some of the songs on the album just don’t do it. "Hoover Street" can without a doubt be an anthem for some of Q’s fans in South Central but that’s about it. The beat is smooth but his lyrical flow is amusingly poor. The echoes throughout the track are really obnoxious and there is no reason why this song should last more than four minutes, let alone six and a half. 

One of the biggest disappointments on the album is "The Purge," produced by and featuring Tyler, the Creator and Kurupt. The song opened with a line from Q’s sweet-voiced daughter, and is followed by a dark but catchy hook from Tyler. Unfortunately, what starts out as a promising song immediately flops after the first 30 seconds. The lazy beat and background sirens distract from what could have been a solid and memorable collaboration. 

"Oxymoron" has a few more noteworthy songs like "Gangsta," a party anthem called "Hell of a Night," and an introspective track called "Prescription/Oxymoron," which is a raw testament to Q’s personal battle with drug use.

The remaining songs on the album, "What They Want" featuring 2 Chainz, "F**k LA," "Grooveline Pt. 2," "His and Her Fiend" and "Los Awesome" may grow on listeners with time but they do not stand out within the first few listens.

Q confirmed via Twitter that A$AP Rocky will appear on the Target Deluxe Edition of the album in  "Californication." It will not be a surprise if he throws in a few more bonus tracks featuring 50 Cent, Mac Miller, or Ab-Soul.

Despite a few missteps, ScHoolboy Q delivered exactly what his fans have grown to love from him and he will only get better with time. His rhymes aren’t pretty, but they are a reflection of who he is and what he’s been through on the streets of South Central. Hopefully Q will show some growth and step out of his comfort zone on future albums with a few more introspective tracks. 

Read more of NT's album reviews here.

Reach Staff Reporter Ashley Velez here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.