Review Summary: A setback.
In a relatively short period of time, it seems that Black Hippy Crew has gone from under the radar to the next big thing; largely in part the Kendrick Lamar's commercial hit "good kid m.A.A.d city." Rap hasn't seen such an interesting hip hop collective in quite some time and with one as good as Black Hippy it is very refreshing. So what exactly is so interesting about them? Well, first off they are bringing good mainstream rap to the masses like it's the 90's again and they are diverse. Kendrick being the proclaimed good kid from Compton brings the great mainstream rap aspect, Schoolboy Q being the once-Crip and Jay Rock being the once-Blood provide a more edgy, gangster-rap side of the crew and Ab-Soul, the introspective member, brings a more intelligent, lyrical approach. All in all, it's an astounding achievement to hear when they are all together. That being said, just what exactly does Schoolboy Q bring to the table with his debut?
Drugs. This album doesn't have a very deep concept, it basically lives and dies by the lyrical matter of drugs that Schoolboy Q spews. The gang member/drug dealer since the age of 12 shares exactly what he's been living for his whole life in almost every second of this 16 track, hour and six minute long record. It is spoken about, slurred upon, felt in the dreamy samples and beats to the point where it's just a drag. In an interview, Schoolboy Q was quoted explaining the concept of his debut as, "Talking about all the shi
t that's the reason why I can't rap. The reason I can't accomplish what I want to accomplish is because I'm doing all this dumb shi
t." I get that, I really do, but sometimes an idea sounds better than it really is, and in this case it's just not a strong enough concept to carry an album for more than about forty minutes, let alone the sixty-six that this album reaches.
Technically speaking, Schoolboy Q's flow has that typical drawl that normally comes with emcees whose lyrical matter revolve around drugs. It's slow, and drawn out at times, but it flows well with the cloud rap production that is displayed on the album. It's nothing to write home about and honestly, its rather below average. Lyrically, he stays away from cheeky one-liners and double entendre's which is a good thing, because they come off as corny and forced more times than not in Hip-Hop. Rather, he depends on the overall strength of what his lines are saying. When done in the manner seen on "Cycles" it can be a real strength with lines that really do hit hard in the simplest of ways such as, "I know niggas that kill niggas/ That kill niggas that kill niggas/ That kill niggas, the cycle continues/ The cycle continues."
More times than not, however, lines such as, "Bet I got some weed/ Bet I got some weed/ If you don't know anything/ Bet I got some weed."
plague the tracks throughout.
Schoolboy Q is definitely a worthy member of Black Hippy, and it is shown more so on his sophomore effort, "Habits and Contradictions." Sadly, the concept is just too tedious to sustain an album of such length and an inability to vary his flow/production to create a sense of variety cause the record to be exactly what the title states; a setback.