In concurrence with the recent release and success of Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city, which sold over 240K units in its first week, I would like to introduce fellow TDE member, Schoolboy Q. If you haven’t already heard of Q, known by many for his features on Kendrick’s “Michael Jordan‘ and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ ‘White Walls,’ he is recognized by his dark lyrics marked with a deep, raspy voice drawn out from years of sipping lean and smoking. Arguably the most gudda member of the Black Hippy crew, Schoolboy Q’s latest and most critically acclaimed album, Habits & Contradictions, is a great introduction to his style. In it, he reveals sagas of pill selling, drugs, partying, women and seeking atonement for his past.
The album begins with ‘Sacrilegious,’ a slow song with quarter notes marked by a steady kick drum and a scattered strum or pluck of the guitar in the background. It kind of has a rock feel to it. Here, we take a look into Q’s mind where he wonders if God to will ever exonerate him for the faithless acts he committed in the past.
Prayers not close to me as I bow down and take a knee
Hell goes far as the eye can see
Hoodies and weaponry
Naïve to being free
Locked up, we chasing keys
How ya eyes investigate us
While we look up to entertainers, ball players, pistol bangers
Big brothers, uncles, uncles
By this, he means that many kids are lost, confused by the true definition of freedom, perceiving it to mean that they are free to live their lives any way they please, by selling “keys” (kilos) and getting quick cash. They are “locked up” in the sense that a life of delinquency has a predetermined path, one that leads to confinement and incarceration. This is a very ironic coming from Q; a contradiction, indeed.
Another notable track is ‘Hands on tHe WHeel‘ featuring A$AP Rocky, which is ideal for a party or a long car ride. The catchy chorus, witty lyrics and original production make this one of my favorite cuts from the album. “Weed and brews, weed and brews/Life for me is just weed and brews/If I fucked her once, then I can fuck her twice/Yeah you heard me right, I might fuck tonight.”
In today’s world of hip-hop, production play a huge factor in determining the success and popularity of an artist, and the Black Hippy collective fully comprehend this. From Jay Rock to Kendrick to Ab-Soul to Schoolboy Q, each artist has found producers that are able to tailor toand build upon their flow, making them even more unique. Credit goes out to the dope in-house production team that is Digi+Phonics and THC. ‘Oxy Music’ is a great illustration of THC’s abilities with a simple drum pattern and an eerie melody that sounds like a tune from a child’s ballerina music box playing in the back while Q raps about hustling oxy and cooking crack. Another example of this production quality comes from Dave Free of Digi+Phonics’ ‘Blessed,’ which discusses how fortunate Q is regardless of the heavy occurrences going on in his life. The booming bass and elongated synths move your head to the beat while soothing angelic voices relax your mind.
Habits & Contradictions is a must have for any serious Kendrick fan, Black Hippy enthusiast, aspiring producer, hip-hop fanatic or anyone in between. There is a reason this album is one the top played albums on my iTunes. Features on the album include Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Dom Kennedy, Curren$y, and Jhene Aiko. If you want to hear more from Schoolboy, be sure to cop his first album Setbacks as well as his past mixtapes Gangsta & Soul and Schoolboy Turned Hustla.
Every step to getting deeper
Survival my main concern
Marinating in Satan’s sweat, take a sip of this holy water
Hoping God still keep me blessed
With a dark shield for my armor