The charm of Schoolboy Q can be narrowed to one word, repeated multiple times over the hardest groove you can find.
“YAWK! YAWK! YAWK! YAWK!”
Who knows what it means, and, really, who cares? It’s Schoolboy’s signature, an extremely catchy buzzword that’s even more addictive with scores of young people yelling it in unison. Such was the case Friday night at the Fillmore Silver Spring, where Schoolboy’s “Oxymoron” World Tour brought him to the sold-out venue.
Schoolboy himself wasn’t that animated, and his voice eroded as the show continued. But it really didn’t matter; the ferocious intensity of his music saved his advanced lethargy. It was in the core-shaking beat drops. Those woozy synthesizers and hard drums. The concert was one big contact high.
That’s not surprising, given Schoolboy’s drug dependence. As on 2011’s “iBETiGOTSUMWEED,” which he performed Friday. “Ain’t got no money, man,” he groaned to the crowd, setting up the song’s chorus. “But bet I got some weed!” Still, Schoolboy is more successful these days after his new album, “Oxymoron,” was distributed through a major studio label, Interscope Records. On it, the Los Angeles rapper featured his daughter, Joy, alongside an assembly line of mainstream rappers and producers: fellow Black Hippy members Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar, Georgia rapper 2 Chainz and Odd Future leader Tyler, the Creator.
“Oxymoron” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart last week. “Because of y’all, I got new shoes, new pants and a new shirt, and my daughter goes to a good school,” Schoolboy said to the Fillmore audience. “S--- changed for me overnight, and I’m sure it can happen to you.” It was one of a few sentimental moments for the gritty Los Angeles native, who paused occasionally to tout the D.C. region’s continued support. (At the end of his 8 p.m. gig, Schoolboy claimed the city as his favorite place to perform.)
Elsewhere, Schoolboy offered strong renditions of his more popular songs, like “Collard Greens,” “The Purge” and “Man of the Year.” He openly hated on the couples there before performing “My Hatin’ Joint,” a philandering standout from his 2012 album “Habits & Contradictions.”
As if the energy weren’t, uh, “high” enough near set’s end, the place literally shook when Schoolboy unveiled this Kendrick tune: “If Pirus and Crips all got along, they’d probably gun me down by the end of this song,” goes the beginning of “m.A.A.d. city.” “Seems like the whole city go against me. Every time I’m in the street, I hear ‘YAWK! YAWK! YAWK! YAWK!’ ”
There was that slogan again, in all its face-pounding grit and indignation. It’s a battle cry and a conversation starter, a broad call to “turn UP.” That’s how Schoolboy speaks, and his fans know the language. Nothing else needs to be said.
Moore is a freelance writer.