Streaming Consciously: Schoolboy Q Attempts To Dance Underwater & Not Get Wet On 'The Blank Face LP'
Summertime really never begins or ends when you live in Los Angeles.
It’s always summer.
That is unless you’re a schoolkid or work in the educational system.
Regardless of his chosen rap moniker, South Central LA’s Hoover Street-bred Black Hippy/T.D.E.-Turn-Up-Technician/Rapper Schoolboy Q hasn’t been the former in a while.
And he almost surely will never be the latter at any point even if he somehow found a way to skate around the background check.
Much like he tells you on “Str8 Ballin”, spelled the same way as the classic Tupac cut off the ‘Thug Life’ compilation album, the Schoolboy they call Q “went from king of the corner, to breaking weed up on my diploma”.
In other words, School’s Out…….for summer……Endless Summer…..aka FOREVER.
Yet somehow traversing across that backdrop while hailing from the Angelic City, right smack dab in the middle of what most of the rest of America knows to actually be summer?
What we have here is a dark, unforgiving, unrepentantly cold-ass gangster rap album that sounds and feels just like winter.
We’re talking real winter too.
Not that LA “it might drop under 70 today, it may even rain for an hour” nonsense.
We're talking more like Northeastern New Year’s Day levels of chill to the winter or nip to the air, if not straight-up February in Fargo, North Dakota feelings of frostbite and foreboding.
On this Q's latest second major-label effort, the ominously-themed and titled ‘Blank Face’, the sounds that you are about to hear which could be devastating to your ear is winter-of-my-discontent mood music in the mold of Mobb Deep’s ‘The Infamous’ or GZA’s ‘Liquid Swords’ rather than DJ Quik’s ‘Safe + Sound’ or YG’s ‘Still Brazy’.
For those just now becoming aware, this isn’t the first paradox that Q has faced in maintaining the second-most-consistent career from among his four Black Hippy brethren (top slot obviously belonging to Kendrick Lamar) since coming into collective consciousness this decade.
This is after all an artist who titled his last independent album ‘Habits & Contradictions’, with a hit that cleverly flipped the criminally underrated roots-rock/singer-songwriter Lissie’s cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit Of Happiness” for its hook.
As the late great Pimp C once casually and still famously said on ‘Hi-Life’ on UGK’s 1996 classic rap album Ridin Dirty, “bad habits do exist”.
Both before and after his rap ascendance, Schoolboy Q has been grappling with a few.
While contradictions abounded then, now, here, as matter of fact all over Q’s career.
For instance, how does an MC so effortlessly gifted at hooks that seem to seep out from his pores as naturally as perspiration also seem so predisposed to purposely deliver us the grimiest, most corrosive content that he possibly can?
How did a dude from a crew called Black Hippy manage to go on to become one of the most nihilistic narrators that this rap game has ever had?
I don’t have the answers to those questions.
And neither, apparently, does our boy Q.
But like Brother Ray used to say, even while walking around blind, he's gonna make it do what it do.
So while both he and we try to figure it out, might as well all try to enjoy ourselves while weathering the storm of this wintry mix, the results of which are now his new best album (at least until the next fix).
Wudder Weight: Fo-Fo Outta Five