Album Review: Habits & Contradictions by ScHoolboy Q
Exceptionally Good, Based on 7 Critics
Rolling Stone - 100 Based on rating 5/5
Schoolboy Q hails from a West Coast weed-rap crew called Black Hippy, but you won't see him on the corner rocking a Dashiki. The ex-Crip's pusherman realism is emotionally hard and murky, and his tracks are dense and dark-tinted, more Wu-steeped trip-hop than Cali-funk. On "My Homie" an old friend's snitching makes for hurt feelings; on "How We Feeling" tea-kettle keyboard whir and a bruising slow-mo beat render a playa anthem at once majestic and haunted; and "There He Go" is an image of a Stringer Bell-like dude who transcends the need to floss: "Ain't got on no jewelry on, still I'm shinin' hard / Ain't got no bodyguard walkin' solo through the mall." The 'Boy is his own man.
Beats Per Minute (formerly One Thirty BPM) - 87 Based on rating 87%%
Schoolboy QHabits & Contradictions[Top Dawg Entertainment; 2012]By Chase McMullen; January 24, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetMP3: Schoolboy Q - "Blessed" (feat. Kendrick Lamar)You could say Schoolboy Q has something of an itchy trigger finger. Labelmate to rapper of the moment, Kendrick Lamar, Q has been eagerly building his own name, not least of which through a timely, scene-stealing performance on A$AP Rocky’s “Brand New Guy.” Now he’s released Habits & Contradictions, almost exactly a year removed from his last full length, Setbacks, which was notable in its own right.
Schoolboy Q is the most promising foot soldier in Kendrick Lamar's Black Hippy crew, a small circle of talented rappers currently reinventing West Coast hip-hop, but he's more than that. His second full-length statement, Habits & Contradictions, is a sumptuously produced and deeply enjoyable hour-plus slab of weed-clouded rap, but it's more than that. I've spent the past four days immersed in it, trying to resolve its conflicting impulses and ferret out all of its weird corners, and the only thing I can say for certain is that, while listening to it, I feel pulled completely into someone else's center of gravity, which is maybe the most gratifying listener's sensation there is.
If you were a hip-hop fan in the Southern California region, 2011 proved to be a very exciting year. After an entire decade spent being held at arm’s length by most major outlets, the ever-increasing influence of bloggers, mixtape aggregators, and Tumblr obsessives finally broke open the gates for the West’s newest crop of rappers to get on the field with everyone else. Odd Future and Lil’ B became the zeitgeists through which Los Angeles and its neighboring cities both became rather weird and rather relaxed, offering us vaudeville performances from Kreayshawn and her White Girl Mob, stoned beach-jams from Dom Kennedy and El Prez, and the ever-challenging roster of instrumental artists drifting through the Low End Theory.
Half gangster, half left-field artist, ScHoolboy Q comes correct when he snarls "I ain't on my Odd Future tip" before threatening to disembowel any challenger, and all while a zombie-walk beat lies underneath. For any old-school fan, Habits & Contradictions rolls like it was brought up on hip-hop magazines instead of indie websites, with beats hitting hard and most dark spots traceable back to Three 6 Mafia and their wonderfully wretched ilk. On the rapper's sophomore effort, this "steeped in the hardcore tradition" attitude is a wonderful contrast to the funky experimentation from names like Lex Luger, the Alchemist, and Tabu, the last of whom creates a wonderful Daft Punk in Shadyville production for the opening "Sacrilegious.
As one-fourth of Black Hippy – along with Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul – ScHoolboy Q’s position in the cadre has always been a bit nebulous. Not quite the frenzied lyrical gymnast Kendrick is or as gritty as Jay Rock, Q floats somewhere in the middle of the gamut and that’s exactly where his sophomore solo effort Habits & Contradictions lies. There’s no shortage of the requisite Hip Hop fare – drugs, crime, hustling – on Habits, and Q does a fine job of espousing it as his own.
There’s an eclectic new outfit of MCs in the works. They’ve been operating on the fringes of the mainstream, ignoring the conventions of what was supposedly needed to make it in hip-hop. Major label deals? Maybe later. Debut studio albums? Let’s release a free mixtape instead. Capitalizing on ….