After months of speculation and anticipation, the night had finally arrived. Hundreds of Schoolboy Q’s most loyal fans huddled patiently around the small stage at LA’s Sonos Studio for the very first taste of the unheard tracks off his new album Oxymoron. Having waited in line earlier in the day to have a chance at pre-ordering the new album (and thus gaining entry to the evening), each fan had put in work to be in attendance and the excitement in the room was palpable.
Dressed in a blacked-out sunglasses and a gold-trimmed camo trench coat with a ceremonial blunt in hand, Schoolboy Q and his entourage emerged from the green room and made their way to the stage. Normally you would expect fans to scream and rush Q for an autograph or picture, but the atmosphere of the evening was decidedly different. Reverent and respectful, the crowd hushed. Only humble nods and handshakes were exchanged as he made his way to the stage.
As the new album began playing, all of my expectations were quickly confirmed. Though fame and notoriety have found Schoolboy Q, his success has not swayed his uniquely brilliant production style. Joined on stage by Raekwon and Kurupt, the first track of the night, “Blind Threats”, exhibited Q’s signature mellow groove underneath self-assured, uplifting lyrics. With an air of aggressive confidence, this track showcased each lyricist beautifully.
The second track, “The Purge”, was easily my favorite of the night. With Kurupt and Tyler the Creator on hand, this track exudes animalistic anger against a beat made out of looped police sirens. Heavy and soul shaking, this track is half way between and snarl and a knowing smile—you’ll definitely be turning up this epic track on a Friday night before heading out to cause some trouble.
“This next track is called ‘F*ck LA’, but I ain’t tryna diss nobody”—a sentiment may seem foreign to non-Angelenos, but everybody in the room just laughed and agreed. We hate to love LA, and we love to hate it. This track showcases Schoolboy Q’s catchy, percussive flow reminiscent of “There He Go” and “Man of the Year”. The production was heavy, almost bordering on gritty. With a pessimistic sneer, Q proclaimed at the end of each hook “Bitch, I am LA”. No arguments here.
Rounding out this showcase was a blazing new track with 2 Chainz called “What They Want”. At first spacey and slow-motion, this track developed quickly into something crushingly heavy built on waves of disorienting bass throbs. Schoolboy Q has a special knack for avoiding over-crowding in his production—his beats are full and commanding without being complicated. One would almost call them minimal—though this seems to diminish the force they contain.
After playing these unheard tracks, a chilled-out Schoolboy Q actually got on the mic and turned the energy up for a quick performance. The crowd went wild as he ripped through “Collared Greens”, “Break The Bank”, “Man of the Year” and “Yay Yay”, which are all wildly acclaimed singles off of the upcoming album Oxymoron.
At the end of the night, our verdict was clear: Oxymoron will only further-solidify Schoolboy Q as one of the most consistently unique and talented figures in hip-hop today. This album showcases his versatility, his teamwork-mentality and his refusal to be swayed by the frivolity of mainstream music trends. The sky is the limit for the intensely creative Black Hippy posse, and Oxymoron is more than a step in the right direction—it’s a giant, all-encompassing leap.