"Oxymoron" is the third album from TDE emcee Schoolboy Q. The album features guest appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, SZA, Raekwon and others as well as production from Alchemist, Mike Will Made It, Nez & Rio, Pharrell and others. It is set to be released on February 25, 2014 via Top Dawg Entertainment and Interscope Records.
1) Gangsta - The album begins with a short intro from Schoolboy Q's daughter before the beat drops into a head nodding Nez & Rio instrumental that sets the darker tone of the album straight out of the gate. The instrumental is hard as hell, featuring some menacing pianos and strings layered over low volume cymbal crashes and deep bass. As far as the lyrics go, Schoolboy is on his gangsta shit on here, kicking some rhymes full of gun, gang and drug references in his usual animated style and flow. This shit is dope and is a real good way to kick off the album.
2) Los Awesome (featuring Jay Rock) - Well this is a little different, especially after the hard-hitting previous song. The beat on here, by Pharrell, contains traces of that signature Neptunes sound, but multiplied by a million. Its very energetic and frantic, with tons of layers of synths, samples and other ambient noises blending together to form the final beat. I'm not gonna say the beat is terrible, but I'm definitely not feelin' it as much as the first. Lyrically the song is not quite as good as the previous song either, with both Schoolboy Q and fellow TDE member Jay Rock sounding somewhat lost over the instrumental and with Jay Rock having the strongest verse. Eh, this one is just ok for me.
3) Collard Greens (featuring Kendrick Lamar) - This was the lead single from the album and its dope. I wasn't really feelin' it back when it was released, but it's definitely grown on me since then and it actually sounds pretty good in the overall flow of the album. The beat, by THC and Gwen Bunn, has a real energetic, bouncy feel to it, with some light synths and percussion over the deep bass. Schoolboy Q rides the instrumental nicely and spits some weed raps while Kendrick shows up and delivers some of his rhymes in Spanish. I have no clue what he is saying, but it sounds good, and that's all that really matters on this one since its really just a party track. Dope.
4) What They Want (featuring 2 Chainz) - The album started off with a darker, gangsta feel before changing that up for the lighter vibe of the previous two tracks and now, for those of you favoring the darker sound, this song delivers. The instrumental, by Mike Will Made It and Marz, is full of haunting synths and resonant chimes that give the beat a real uneasy feel. I've never considered myself a 2 Chainz fan, but he actually sounds pretty good on here and compliments Schoolboy's violent drug rhymes nicely.
5) Hoover Street - Now this is dope. Sounwave delivers an ill instrumental that is centered around a nice guitar loop blended with some trippy synths and rolling drums. The beat is banging and Schoolboy's rhymes are on point over it, rapping about being a product of his environment and about always keeping it real. About two minutes into the song the beat changes up to an even better instrumental, with some darker synths laid over gritty boom-bap drums that got my head nodding like crazy. Schoolboy comes through and just attacks the beat, rapping about the violent and negative aspects of his life while growing up in the streets. Yeah, this shit is fire.
6) Studio (featuring BJ The Chicago Kid) - Schoolboy Q lowers the intensity of his delivery and kicks some love rhymes over a smooth Swiff D instrumental featuring a distorted vocal sample, some subtle, yet atmospheric, synths and trunk-rattling bass. The beat is real chill, Schoolboy's rhymes are on point for what the song hopes to accomplish and BJ The Chicago Kid comes through nicely on the chorus. I can see this track being a big hit if they decide to release it as a single. Nice.
7) Prescription/Oxymoron - Sounwave returns with another spaced out instrumental, this time with some somber strings, melancholy synths and soft drums while Schoolboy Q raps about "falling in love" with prescription pills. I know I've heard this sample before and, if I had to guess, I'd say its from a Portishead track, but don't quote me on that. Anyways, about half way through the song the beat changes up and Schoolboy enters into a drug-induced stupor while his young daughter tries to figure out what is wrong with her father. The second beat is just as good as the first, with some pianos, synths and trap music hi-hits. During this part of the song, Q talks about his time dealing drugs to make money to feed his daughter, which makes this one of the most introspective songs on the album so far. Dope track.
8) The Purge (featuring Tyler, The Creator and Kurupt) - This song features a strange instrumental, by Tyler, The Creator, that is neck and neck with "Los Awesome" as my least favorite beat on the album so far. The instrumental is real minimalistic, with some falling synths, mellow drums and other ambient noises in the background that don't really do much for me. Lyrically the song is much better than the beat, with both Schoolboy and Kurupt coming correct while Tyler only provides the chorus. Eh, not really feelin' this one.
9) Blind Threats (featuring Raekwon) - Now this is much better. The beat on this song, courtesy of LordQuest, incorporates the same sample as Cypress Hill's classic track "Illusions", but flips the sample very differently. This time, the hazy sample is layered over the occasional string sample and almost lighthearted percussion that makes the track feel much less esoteric than DJ Muggs instrumental. Schoolboy Q starts the track off and spits two ill verses before Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon the Chef comes through and shuts shit down. This track is coming with the same vibe as one of my favorite Q tracks, "Blessed", off of his "Habits and Contradictions" album. Very dope track.
10) Hell of A Night - This track leaked a while back and I was kinda on the fence about it then, but now that I hear it within the overall flow of the album I'm really feelin' it. The beat, by DJ Dahi, is an ill instrumental consisting of an ethereal vocal sample, more synths and keyboards, rapid fire hi-hats and pumping drums that up the energy level a bit after the more laid-back previous song. Lyrically Schoolboy isn't really saying much on here since this is more of a party track than anything else, but I'm ok with that. Dope shit.
11) Break The Bank - Schoolboy Q raps about the allure of money and fame over a darker Alchemist instrumental with some ominous pianos, rattling drums and a haunting vocal loop in the background. The beat is dope as hell, Schoolboy's lyrics are straight and the chorus is sure to get stuck in your head all day. I'm thinking Q needs to work with Alchemist more often since this shit is absolute fire. The album is really picking up here with the past few songs. Very dope.
12) Man of The Year - I believe this was the second single released from the album and its banging. The beat, by Nez & Rio, has a real breezy feel, with a dreamy Chromatics sample layered over the booming bass. The beat is dope as hell and Q sounds great over it, kicking some more party rhymes about living the good life. This cut is really just Schoolboy going for a hit, but its fire so I can't complain.
13) His and Her Friend (featuring SZA) - Well now this is a bit different. The past few songs have all had quite a bit of energy to them, but this track is much more relaxed. The beat, by Rocket, is actually kind of dark despite the slower feel, with an atmospheric sample, airy synths and some soft pianos over the shuffling drums. The vibe of the track has got me thinking of old Dungeon Family shit for some reason, which is perfectly fine with me. The drugged out feeling of the track compliments Q's lyrics perfectly, as he raps from the perspective of an Oxycontin pill while SZA provides some sultry vocals on the chorus. Yeah, I'm feelin' this one too.
14) Grooveline Pt. 2 (featuring Suga Free) - This track features a smooth guitar-based instrumental, courtesy of Tae Beast and Frank Dukes, with some backing strings, mellow drums and ambiance that give it a real laid back feel. It's very similar in vibe to "Grooveline Pt. 1" off of "Habits and Contradictions", but I'm not sure I'm feelin' it quite as much as that track. Still, the beat is nice and both Schoolboy and West Coast veteran Suga Free come through and spit some pimp shit over it, so you can't really go wrong there. Dope.
15) fukk LA - In sharp contrast to the previous song, Nez & Rio return with the production duty on this track and provide Schoolboy with a dark banger to spit fire over. The beat is dark as hell, with some sinister keyboards layered over the trap hi-hats and deep bass, and Q sounds great over it, kicking some more of his usual rhymes full of gang and drug references. This shit is dope, though, and is a great way to close out the album.
I'm going to rate the album
4 / 5
because its dope as hell. The beats are pretty much fire throughout the entire project, with only two of them ("Los Awesome" and "The Purge") not really hittin' for me. Lyrically the album is pretty good as well, with Schoolboy just kinda sticking with what he does best and spitting some crazy rhymes in his trademark energetic and wild style. His rhymes are full of the usual drug and gang references, with only a track or two trying to go the introspective route. Even the concept tracks like "His and Her Friend" are still about drugs, just presented in a different manner. Despite never really stepping outside of his comfort zone on the album, I'm still really feelin' the final product and overall vibe of the album. There's no denying that Q came with a banger and I'm definitely looking forward to what else he can cook up in the future.
Favorite tracks: Gangsta, Hoover Street, Prescription/Oxymoron, Blind Threats, Break the Bank, Man of the Year, fukk LA