ScHoolboy Q "Oxymoron": TDE's First Attack of 2014
Reviewer’s Note: This review is for the deluxe edition, featuring two extra tracks. Oxymoron by ScHoolboy Q is Top Dawg Entertainment’s (TDE) first album of 2014. TDE’s plans for 2014 are approaching world domination level. Their entire line up is set to release albums this year, following their powerful 2013 fiscal year, in which they did not even release a single album. So… how does TDE’s first big drop line up?
ScHoolboy Q is unafraid to venture into the nontraditional. His beats are weird and his lyrics range from extreme hyperbole to the darkest depths of his life. As big as Q’s personality is on most of tracks, his guests explode on the mic.
ScHoolboy and his crew tell a dark, modern day gangster story. His energy is contagious. It’s bleak. It’s dark. It’s fast. It spirals out of control in its finale.
Track by Track analysis:
1. Gangsta 3.5/5
Beginning with ScHool’s daughter’s first of many monologues, this track sets the dark feel for the album. The beat features an odd string part, and a nod to Kendrick’s maad City. ScHool is bursting with energy. “GANGSTA, GANGSTA, GANGSTA”
2. Los Awesome 5/5
This track does some really interesting things. Whenever you feel a build to chorus, ScHool dials it down and revamps. The beat does this seamlessly. Lyrics are violent as possible.
3. Collard Greens 3/5
This song was an early release, but not my favorite. The beat features a cool mix of random sounding noises building to a rhythm, but it kind of bores me. This track doesn’t really go anywhere until Kendrick comes in.
4. What They Want 1/5
Who chose to have 2 Chainz on this album? This song is just awkward at parts. The beat is slow, and the echoic vocals drag on. 2 Chainz sounds like he is under anesthesia.
5. Hoover Street 4.5/5
By now I am starting to realize ScHool loves echo. The beat change at 1:39 is amazing. The momentum shifts and ScHool slays.
6. Studio 4.5/5
ScHool’s attempt at a “love” song is hilarious in its own right. We paint the picture of ScHool sitting in the studio late at night. His mind wanders. He’s thinking about his girl--very graphic thoughts.
7. Prescription/Oxymoron 5/5
This is by far the darkest track on the record. It opens with the sound of ruffling through pills and never looks back. ScHool is at his lyrical best here in the titular track. He comes open about his addiction to prescription drugs. His daughter’s monologue is ripping. We feel for ScHool, just trying to get his family in his life. Feels like an attempt for ScHool to have his own m.A.A.D City, but is great is its own right. The true dark matter of the album, it weaves a noir tale of the descent into narcotics.
8. The Purge 4.5/5
Tyler the Creator’s harsh baritone and ScHoolboy’s vicious bars give The Purge its power. A very dark feel throughout, The Purge’s beat is unsettling in its awkward timing and noise. It almost makes you nervous listening to it.
9. Blind Threats 5/5
A Wu-Tang sounding track, Blind Threats is a lyrical adventure. Who else to accompany us but Raekwon of the Wu itself? Blind Threats could be described as gangster depression. ScHool isn’t all bulletproof, he gets deep and shows his regret and weaknesses.
10. Hell of A Night 3.5/5
This song does feel like the album’s token “club-friendly” track, but the atmospheric beat and vocal background ambiance is good enough to overcome the generic EDM nature.
11. Break the Bank 5/5
A trip down hip hop memory lane, Break the Bank sounds like a 90’s ode to the game of rap. ScHool’s raspy lyrics are crisp in their delivery. He sounds like an urban poet, spouting his verses on a hot summer day.
12. Man of the Year 4/5
My favorite beat on the whole album. It’s feels like an anthem. ScHoolboy’s chorus sounds great at first, however grows repetitive.
13. His and Her Friend 2/5
TDE newcomer SZA is featured, but this track is too slow to go anywhere. Definitely feels like an extra track thrown into the deluxe edition. Does have a unique ambiance, but the edited voices drag.
14. Grooveline Part Two 3/5
This song appears to tell a story of buying a “lady friend” for the night. The sexuality however feels very forced.
15. Fuck LA 4.5/5
This feels like an ode to the hip hop capital of the West Coast. And it belongs to ScHoolboy Q.
Oxymoron is far from a classic. It pales in comparison to m.A.A.D City and that is how it should be. Kendrick’s masterpiece set the TDE bar high, and ScHoolboy only preps you for what’s to come in 2014.
Break the Bank