Review Summary: Resolutely Q.
For about 5-minutes of every year, ScHoolboy Q is everybody's favourite rapper. Listening to his singles (e.g. "Collard Greens") or his features (e.g. "Let it Bang"), he sounds a remarkably captivating rapper, tumbling between words with a bluster unmatched by your regular trap goon. His flow is urgent whilst lyrical, ensuring some meaning is attached to his threats while ensuring you'll be 'leaving with a hole in [your] skull
.' Outside of those 5-minutes, though, Q tends to a remarkably boring and frustrated spitter, preferring to cop a lackadaisical delivery over the menace that can put him well ahead of Kendrick and the Black Hippy crew. Q himself has complained about his waning critical and commercial fortunes, often insisting in vain that he is, '... better than [Kendrick]... It's a layup
.' It's hard not to agree when he's at optimal performance; that's so rare though that it's laughable to think he might be serious. So Blank Face
operates on the premise that those brief moments of excellence Q nonchalantly veers into can be sustained across a 75-minute long player.
Without going into specifics, Blank Face
is by far the most consistently captivating ScHoolboy Q has ever been. Part of that can be attributed to Q's latent direction towards album-oriented sounds and themes, aiming to relay a generally amped-up paranoia brought on by street-level shellshock. Credit where it's due, Q's snarling and onomatopoeic phrasing of 'knocks' and 'bangs' become the norm, often opting for a savageness he infrequently indulges. When matched by equally brutish beats- sounds that err closer to the Southern horrorcore of 808 Mafia than, say, radio-friendly trap or critically appeasing backpacker rap- Q's better than he's ever been. It all balances out to solidify Blank Face
as something singular in expression. Most of that is to say nothing of when it all devolves into limply worded posturing, of which Blank Face
is guilty of at least half of the time. Ordinarily, Q's deficiencies are most clearly at fault; here, it's a smattering of poorly chosen guests that hinder Q's worked over vision. As opposed to Vince Staples or Anderson .Paak, who bolster Blank Face
's obsession with narcotics and braggadocio, misplaced spots from E-40 and Kanye West serve the record poorly outside of marketing purposes. It's hard to see that being an issue though had Blank Face
not sprawled unnecessarily beyond an hour's length. It's a reminder that ScHoolboy Q hasn't really got a hang of quality control quite yet. But then again, he's always been prone to this sort of nonsense; Blank Face
is still resolutely ScHoolboy Q in its misplaced bravado. In terms of pure thrills, though, it's difficult to argue against this being his best album yet.