ScHoolboy Q
Oxymoron


3.5
great

Review

by Aziz STAFF
February 25th, 2014 | 259 replies


Release Date: 02/25/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sliiiiiide to tHe left.

#1 on ScHoolboy Q’s Greatest Albums of All Time List

If you’re under the impression that Top Dawg Entertainment is taking over the world, you’re neither alone nor unjustified (hell, my phone even autocorrects ‘tde’ to ‘TDE’). For decades hip-hop has seen myriad groups fleetingly captivate the attention of listeners with promises of longevity, only to fade quickly when their output proves to be, at best, mediocre. Those artists poised to don the crown and galvanize hip-hop have made us hold our collective breaths, but when their music sputters, we’ve learned to exhale. Black Hippy has asphyxiated us. In the past few years ScHoolboy Q and co. have submerged us in such a suffocating billow of robust rap that we’ve been bewitched into believing that forward is the only existing direction for the California collective. And while Q’s sophomore album Oxymoron isn’t quite the powerhouse it was touted as, to call it a misstep would be a disservice to what is, truly, a great album; Oxymoron’s no slump – it only shows that TDE can also move laterally.

If the album seems disjointed on first listen, it’s only because the perennial flurry of delays and setbacks (ha) ScHoolboy's album faced mandated a recurrent stream of teasers (a third of the album was available before its entirety leaked). For the uninitiated, Oxymoron was marketed as a concept album, Q’s oxymoron being the juxtaposition of his roots as a crip in LA, furnished with addictions to guns, drugs, and women, and his forced acclimatization to parenthood and doing right by his ironically saccharine daughter (whose inclusion on the album is often questionable, though haunting on “Prescription”). Though the initial concept was not entirely preserved in the final product, Oxy is still as cohesive as its predecessor was, again featuring a bevy of bangers. “Gangsta” introduces newcomers to just about all of ScHoolboy’s trademarks: the bark, the drugs, the straps, the ad-libs, and, most importantly, the incredible ear for beats. Although the delicate, fluttering piano and opalescent orchestral augmentation initially seem more attuned to levity than “Knock-Knock-Knock-Knock-Knock – YAWK”s, ScHoolboy’s penchant for addictive hooks and his exhaustive thesaurus of flows awaken the verve hidden within the musky hollows of the beat, sketching a menacing mission statement. “Hoover Street” opens with an incredible stripped back beat which evolves (far too quickly) into a daunting, atmospheric backdrop to the narration of Q’s childhood and family life, and though it’s not quite as enthralling or consonant as the annals of adolescence that Kendrick Lamar chronicled on Good Kid Maad City, it’s a welcome peek through the recesses of a man whose emotional disclosures were previously restricted to the shallows of women, weed, and weather.

And while ScHoolboy has never been a particularly lyrical rapper – a factor he more than makes up for with his commanding presence and varied flows – “Blind Threats” finds Q at a lyrical apex as he entwines introspection and storytelling to spit two of his tightest verses period. And the beat, an urban potpourri of twinkling melodies, sharp strings, and tasteful school-desk knucklework, is one that would have fit perfectly on Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II or Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang, so the Raekwon feature results in a gritty verse that is latticed so seamlessly into the beat that it feels like it’s actually part of the instrumental. In fact, for the most part, the features here are (Tyler the Creator is right at home on his homegrown “The Purge” and even 2 Chainz, whose verse is predictably vapid, at least fits well on “What They Want”) just about perfect for the songs Q commissioned them for, but surprisingly, the best song on the album doesn’t even have a feature: “Prescription/Oxymoron” opens with a near comatose Q ‘overfaded’ off a cocktail of lean and pills, forced by his state to ignore his family. The sludgy interpolations of his daughter Joy urging him to revive himself add an element of terror and reality to the song as it trudges along, somnolent but never monotonous. Suddenly, the track erupts into the subwoofer-mangling title track, where we find Q on the other side, pushing instead of popping (actually, he “just stopped selling crack”, but this is the oxymoron – he moved work/indulged in crime to provide for his daughter), snarling the album’s meanest hook over rattling drums and viscous piano chords.

Oxymoron is so heavily riddled with great tracks, its only major flaw is that it sometimes tries too hard to make hits. Habits and Contradictions was rife with effortless earworms, but on Oxy it almost feels like Q is pandering too vigorously in his attempts to develop radio-ready jams; “Los Awesome” is so overwhelmed with noise in its busy production that not even a strong Jay Rock verse (honestly, at this point we should just assume that Jay Rock features on Black Hippy albums will almost always renegade) can save the song from itself, and “Man of the Year” is too obsessed with pampering clubgoers to be at all interesting. On “Studio,” ScHoolboy half-abandons rap to croon lamely on the verse while BJ the Chicago Kid lays a lifeless hook atop a thoroughly barren instrumental, and although “Hell of a Night” exudes gleaming catchiness – the ad-libbing on its final verse makes it one of the most enjoyable on the album – its hook (“go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go” ad infinitum) is unbearably corny. That’s not to say that half the album is throwaway material though; Q is incredibly talented when it comes to whittling his grimy, malleable beats into strong, fun songs – even when something goes wrong. Actually, “Studio” and “Grooveline Pt. II” (Suga Free’s lackadaisical style isn’t laid back – it’s uninteresting and almost offensive) are the only truly unlistenable songs, and most of the songs on this album are more than stellar. Unfortunately though, when we compare Oxy to Habits and Contradictions (perhaps the only fair comparison to make), it can’t stand up even to its predecessor’s first three tracks. But what it lacks in punch it makes up for in being a more focused effort than its occasionally mixtape-esque brother, and thus, Oxymoron isn’t so much a backpedal for Q and TDE as it is a solid side-step.




Recent reviews by this author
Iceage Plowing Into the Field of LoveYour Old Droog Your Old Droog
The Roots ...And Then You Shoot Your CousinHave a Nice Life The Unnatural World
Warpaint WarpaintBusta Rhymes & Q-Tip The Abstract & The Dragon
user ratings (298)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Chris Maitland (3.5)
Almost the new top dawg....

LambsBread (1.5)
A moron on oxy....

Robert Perry (3)
Could have been better....

Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (2)
Don't believe the hype train...


Comments:Add a Comment 
GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2014


6154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

First review as a staffer woo

Wasn't Happy witH How tHis started but I tHink it turned out reasonably well. Was going to cHange every H in tHe review to a capital H but wHen I took a look at it like tHat it looked kind of distracting to read so I compromised and just did it in tHe summary.

Speaking of wHicH, I tHink I kind of Hate tHe summary, and tHere's a reasonable cHance I migHt cHange it tomorrow.

Buzzkillr
February 25th 2014


1541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

spoiler: that list of favorite albums was in chronological order

Buzzkillr
February 25th 2014


1541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nice review tho

Phlegm
February 25th 2014


5104 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

great review, might even surpass Robert Perry's

Digging: Dean Blunt - Black Metal

JeetJeet
February 25th 2014


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Suga Free ruined Grooveline 2 so badly. Total waste of a feature.

I still dig this though.

Digging: Childish Gambino - STN MTN/ Kauai

joesmoe4000
February 25th 2014


371 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

your fucking crazy he's what made that song.habits & contradictions is miles better than this.

Digging: Cozz - Cozz & Effect

Buzzkillr
February 25th 2014


1541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm not getting the Groovline 2 and Suga Free hate tbh, smooth ass beat and chill flows...

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2014


22004 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it’s only because the struggle to retain relevance amidst a perennial flurry of delays mandated a recurrent stream of teasers

fucking words how do they work

#1 on ScHoolboy Q’s Greatest Albums of All Time List

lol

Digging: Miguel - Kaleidoscope Dream

joesmoe4000
February 25th 2014


371 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

the only tracks i see myself listening to a yr. from now is Grooveline Pt. 2 & Blind Threats.has some
decent tracks on this but way too many that are just meh.i might cave in the future and give this a 3
but i don't see how this gains a higher rating from me.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2014


20857 Comments


It's tricky to read past the 1st sentence of a review when an abbreviation immediately renders it "not for you stupid".

In other words Gnarly, I'd put what TDE refers to in brackets after the 1st mention of it. Otherwise, your review will have limited appeal.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2014


3469 Comments


http://lmgtfy.com/?q=tde

;]

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2014


3469 Comments


but yeah probably worth explaining it

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2014


21453 Comments


cover reminds me of

http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20060606221437/x-files/images/c/cf/Flukeman.jpg

Digging: Aspherium - The Fall of Therenia

Buzzkillr
February 25th 2014


1541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

http://ge.tt/7a2rBeL1

two target exclusive tracks are out if anyone's interested

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2014


9046 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

ugh the capitalized H's

Guzzo10
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2014


1061 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I laughed so hard at that first line. When he ended up having Oxy at #1 on Complex I couldn't help but burst out laughing. Great review, would pos but, you know.

Buzzkillr
February 25th 2014


1541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

spoiler: that list of favorite albums was in chronological order


seriously guys stop being dense


ASnideReturns
February 25th 2014


5241 Comments


The capital H in the summary annoys me so much. Cool review though.

Digging: Avenged Sevenfold - Nightmare

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2014


22004 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

that's something q does and it annoys me too

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
February 25th 2014


6154 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fucking words how do they work


ewww yeah good point i think i wrote each half of that sentence at different times and then never realized how wordy it was.

It's tricky to read past the 1st sentence of a review when an abbreviation immediately renders it "not for you stupid".

In other words Gnarly, I'd put what TDE refers to in brackets after the 1st mention of it. Otherwise, your review will have limited appeal.


Yikes! Yeah my bad I didn't mean to offend, I'll change that right now IDK why I didn't think to in the first place.

Ins: gross, but i see it. grats on contrib btw, did this happen like overnight (ghost promo)??

spoiler: that list of favorite albums was in chronological order


seriously guys stop being dense


Are you sure about this? Where did it say that? I don't remember the list but I remember Control System being ahead of GKMC and Control System def came out before gkmc. Either way idk why you are getting upset nigga clearly put all three of his albums on that list so how can you not clown him.

I'll take a look later and see if I can find that it's chrono, and if so I'll change it.

The capital H in the summary annoys me so much. Cool review though.


Yeah it's like his thing I guess. At least I didn't capitalize any Hs unnecessarily in the review! He does it in song titles a lot too but I was like uH-uHH, fuck tHaHt



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy