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March 10, 2014 | by  | in Arts Music |
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ScHoolboy Q – Oxymoron

ScHoolboy Q is hard to lock down.

His voice bounces and climbs between tones, his temperament cold, celebratory and regretful in equal measure. A gangster (of sorts) since age 12, he’s now very into caring for his daughter, when he’s not rapping about sliding himself into your cousin or dealing a whole load of drugs, that is. Hence the title – Oxymoron, both a self-diagnosis and a prescription-drug reference.

Oxymoron is a good album, not a great one. I can see myself pulling it out for the next three or so months, but not decades from now. Another West Coast rap-opera, much like labelmate Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, Oxymoron is a journey through the darker side of LA, only Q seems to be having a lot more fun. Kendrick’s presence hangs consistently over Oxymoron – Q used to be his hypeman. He features on the album’s lead single, ‘Collard Greens’, a gem of a track that shines ever-brighter among a weak stable of tracks that begin the album. (Kendrick seems to predict this, starting his verse with: “This your favourite song”.)

The album doesn’t really pick up again until the Portishead-sampling seven-minute two-part title track ‘Prescription/Oxymoron’, which comes just after the dreadful ‘Studio’. Here, Q spends the first half of the track sampling his daughter attempting to wake him from an OxyContin-induced coma, before diving into a second half chronicling the selling of the same (“you get one for 30 if you let me hold your titty”). It’s all a bit on the nose, but good rap generally isn’t about subtlety, and Q gets away with sounding sincere in both his home and street personas.

The latter half of the album is much better than the first, featuring decent appearances from Tyler, Kurupt and Raekwon, funner production, and unsurprisingly, the other two singles, ‘Break the Bank’ and ‘Man of the Year’.

Q is undeniably an excellent rapper, and the in-house production team behind him are competent, if a little safe. Oxymoron is worth a listen or ten, but not a place in the West Coast canon.

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