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ScHoolboy Q, Habits & Contradictions

There’s an eclectic new outfit of MCs in the works. They’ve been operating on the fringes of the mainstream, ignoring the conventions of what was supposedly needed to make it in hip-hop. Major label deals? Maybe later. Debut studio albums? Let’s release a free mixtape instead. Capitalizing on the emergence of this new breed, indie label Top Dawg Entertainment has slowly put together a potential powerhouse in the making. Their roster is good. Scary good. There’s Kendrick Lamar, the introspective poet, crowned the heir apparent to the West Coast throne by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in a passing of the torch moment. There’s Jay Rock, a hard-nosed voice of the streets. And then there’s ScHoolboy Q—somewhat of an oddball within an oddball crew, dabbling in recreational drug use, sporadic mayhem, and the occasional foray into socially conscious rap. (And don’t forget Ab-Soul—he’s next on deck). Self-aware of his own inconsistencies, ScHoolboy makes his 2012 debut with Habits & Contradictions.

Contradictions, indeed. The tone of the project is ever-changing throughout. The somber opener “Sacrilegious” is a far cry from the weed and brews anthem “Hands on the Wheel” that follows soon after. There’s a woodgrain tinge to the record, underscored by an H-town influence that the track’s featured guest, A$AP Rocky, also made integral to his debut release LiveLoveA$AP. The same influence is evident on the drugged out “How We Feeling,” where syrupy slow drums remind of a Chopped and Screwed record.

Then there’s the sinister ravings of a madman, showcased on the claustrophobic interlude “Tookie Knows” and the Crip-inspired “Raymond 1969.” On the latter, ScHoolboy sounds almost Odd Future-esque, with mentions of over the top violence, while simultaneously claiming “I’m not on my Odd Future tip” (Remember the whole contradictions thing?). Then carefree chill artists Curren$y and Dom Kennedy show up on “Grooveline Pt 1,” one of the album’s more relaxing cuts.

The final contradiction of the night appears on the last cut, “Blessed.” Kicking street wisdom alongside Black Hippy groupmate Kendrick, Q’s self-aware reflection is a deviation from the hedonistic anecdotes featured throughout. K. Dot’s verse is something to marvel at, another gem from the Compton MC who’s looking like a rap legend in the early stages of development.

Ultimately, lyrical dexterity and a versatile delivery prove to be ScHoolboy’s biggest assets. He’s got an arsenal of different flows, sounding at home no matter the sonic direction of the record. Such disparate influences might seem inharmonious, but, somehow, woven together, it flat out works throughout. The truth is, a passing of the torch ceremony is all well and good, but this stable of classroom misfits on the horizon seem poised to take over, whether the OGs approve of it or not. One of them is a ScHoolboy with something to say—and you never know what side of him you’re going to see next. —Neil Martinez-Belkin

  • mr.monty james the 3rd

    THE album goes hard. Need more shit like this,swagged out on that weirdo tip.

  • Fredo

    absoul is in TOP DAWG TOO. come on ‘HIP HOP EXPERTS’ get your facts right. don’t write an article on google and wikipedia references. do your homework.

    • jimyyjam

      moron they did mention t, and even if they ddnt itsnnot as if people dnt already know. ppl like u are fuckin thick as shit.

    • Twenty XX

      well actually they did mention ab-soul bro.

  • tyy

    Fredo, they did mention it. How bout you read something before writing a comment.

  • Chris

    the beats deserve an XL… finally a good review
    dope album
    #BlackHippy

    • Twenty XX

      @ chirs. i agree with u bro. my favs beats/songs on here is hands on the wheel, grooveline pt.1 ( lex luger killed the beat by the way), blessed and sacreligous. dope ass mixtape. they need more music like this and these niggas to trill for these mainstream fucks. underground music is the most underrated but its the best out there. real shit!

  • matt

    ummm the beats were tight deseves a xl or maybe a xxl for beats

  • slim901

    @Fredo shiiiit….even Google and Wiki reference would’ve had that right.

  • Derek

    I’m considering looking into this guy. Can anybody tell me, is he like Lil Wayne and Drake or more abstract rappers such as Tech N9ne?

    • dkfjrewqsa

      He’s not abstract or mainstream, just kinda thought provoking chill music. He’s more like Kendrick Lamar or Smoke DZA

  • fabio

    @Derek… Just look into him, no need to ask! i know XXl are pretty awful with their reviews but this is pretty much spot on.
    Black Hippy (this generations NWA)

  • moveOver

    This album is too good….he has a million different flows and he knows how to get his point across with minimal vocabulary. TDE got the most versatile team right now and all them dudes can rap with the best. I still ride or die with Slaughterhouse but Black Hippy got something completely different yet equally good.

  • ikem namzug

    haha guy above said lil wayne or drake…lmao

    • purplenugs

      hahahahaha, right?

      • MZ

        Surely, SURELY, he’s f**king around? No one can come out with a question that stupid on a site like this… or can they?

  • kyle

    who the fuck is Redmic?? I keep seeing her name…I saw some shit saying she’s a female version of jay z and kendrick lamar..wtf does anybody know? im going to Itunes to research

  • ikem namzug

    THE BEATS ON THIS ALBUM ARE DEFINATLY WORTH AN XL

  • khaliba

    NIGHTMARES ON FIG STREET killer type track

  • Louis Ace

    You get no ratings after calling the group “Black Hibby”? Whats a Black Hibby by the way? If you were talking about Black Hippy I could of maybe understood the article. #HnC gets a XXL in my P.O.V.

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    Bookmarked, I love your blog

  • @BrandoHuddle

    This CD was amazinnngg! #Section80 was much better but this CD was really good and hood. This nigga showed his musical side and his gang-banging side. Overall it got a great rating

  • Chris

    This deserved at least an XL for beats. XXL been on some bullshit lately.