ScHoolboy Q Has Arrived – XXL Issue 153
Real And True
After patiently waiting for his turn, it's finally here. Now ScHoolboy Q gets to show hip-hop what a threat he really is.
Words kris ex
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the April/May 2014 issue of XXL Magazine.
ScHoolboy Q saunters into the downtown Los Angeles showrooms of Zanerobe—an Australia-based streetwear brand—he’s wearing retro Air Jordan 1s, off-black jeans, a blue custom-made Milkcrate Athletics bucket hat emblazoned with the 5200 block of Figueroa Street and a gingham Emilio Sacci shirt. “I got it from one of my videos,” says the 27-year-old West Coast MC extremely matter-of-factly. “I just took it home. It costs like $400.” Slung over his back is a backpack made of at least one kind of reptile skin. The bag contains a minimum of two mason jars of marijuana buds. He’s already high, but he asks if he’s allowed to smoke in the room, even though he knows that he can’t. Within an hour, he’ll produce, as if by magic, two Styrofoam cups. (“I just finished the album, so I feel like I could drink a little lean, even though it’s still wrong,” he says.)
Q will tell you that there’s nothing special about him—despite the fact that he’s a successful and still ascending rapper tied into Top Dawg Entertainment, currently rap’s most promising movement. Oxymoron, his major-label debut—coming after two early mixtapes (2008’s Schoolboy Turned Hustla and 2009’s Gangsta & Soul), both of which he describes as “embarrassing” and “terrible,” and two well-executed independent albums (2011’s Setbacks and 2012’s Habits & Contradictions)—has been one of the more anticipated hip-hop albums since TDE’s Kendrick Lamar emerged as leader of the new school with the Grammy-snubbed good kid, m.A.A.d city two years ago. As of today, the album is still a closely guarded secret—the track listing won’t be released for another week, and when he hooks up his iPhone to the showroom’s soundsystem to play a few cuts, he doesn’t divulge song titles, despite the fact that two videos and parts of two other records from the album have been released.
“Me talking about music and me actually releasing it is a whole different thing,” he says. “Nobody really cares about interviews. They’re cool to watch, but the music always speaks for itself. So that’s what’s going to heat me up—not a interview, not a TV appearance, not me on a billboard. Me releasing those songs is just me heating it up, ’cause I don’t believe TV, none of that shit can help me. Nobody cares about that no more.”
It’s an incredibly bold thing to say to a reporter (who happens to be conducting an interview) in front of your publicist (who happens to spend his time setting up things like interviews and TV appearances), but Q gives no fucks. It’s also a contradiction—he showed up for the interview (relatively) on time, despite the fact that he doesn’t drive, having had his license suspended some eight years ago and not bothering to fix it up. Once this interview is over, he’ll shoot over to film the season finale of DJ Skee’s SKEE Live show on AXS TV, where he’ll give at least one interview and perform twice backed by the house band. (He was also a guest on the series’ premiere last summer.)
Oxymorons are Q’s stock in trade. He’s a (non-active) gangbanger with an expensive taste for fashion. He also maintained a 3.3 GPA while attending Crenshaw High School and played football as a student at Glendale and West Los Angeles community colleges, as well as Los Angeles City College, though he never graduated. “That shit was hard,” he says. “I knew I was gonna drop out. I was just trying to play football for a little bit.”
He accredits his high school GPA to gaming the system. “All you gotta do is do your homework,” he says. “Honestly, really think about high school. It’s the easiest shit ever. Just turn your work in. I was failing tests and all that, but I would have so many A’s it would balance out into a B or a C+ in other classes. It was real, real easy. Go to school, cheat, nigga. That’s how I did it.”