Album review: Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron

Kendrick Lamar's friend and occasional collaborator Schoolboy Q has called his new album a "classic". Has he jumped the gun?
Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q
Oxymoron by Schoolboy Q

Schoolboy Q Oxymoron

(TDE / Interscope) ⋆⋆⋆

Swaggering into the limelight in the wake of his more famous friend and sometime bandmate Kendrick Lamar, the 27-year-old Los Angeles rapper Schoolboy Q has already modestly described his new album as a “classic”. Rooted in a gangsta-rap style that draws on his troubled past as a gang member and drug dealer, Oxymoron features numerous star guests including Wu-Tang Clan veteran Raekwon and the ubiquitous Pharrell Williams, who adds lush electro-funk production to Los Awesome. Lamar also has a striking cameo, laying a dynamic bilingual English-Spanish rap over the spare, loping beats of Collard Greens. Strong on studio polish and vocal versatility, but dangerously low on humour or intelligence, Schoolboy Q’s major label debut is a rich but uneven and long-winded affair. For every cinematic epic such as the menacing urban melodrama The Purge or the jazzy addiction chronicle Hoover Street, Hanley lets himself down with thin club-friendly grooves such as Hell of a Night or the boringly boastful R&B ballad Studio. Despite a handful of terrific tracks, Oxymoron ultimately suffers from a serious lack of wit, charm and originality.

Published: March 3, 2014 04:00 AM