When rappers explore their vices in verse, the resulting works tend to be either brilliant explorations of personal demons or lots of talk of weed and sex. The latest from L.A. rapper Schoolboy Q, the addictive “Habits & Contradictions,” incredibly manages to be both.
Q, a member of the up-and-coming West Coast-based Black Hippy rap clique, which includes Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul, said in a recent interview that in his slightly younger days, he sold drugs and wanted to be an LAPD cop, which gives an idea of the conflicting interests all over “Habits & Contradictions.”
One minute the rapper is shouting over the sludgy, demented track that is the backdrop of “Tookie Knows” an interlude of outbursts that indirectly speak to executed gang founder Stanley “Tookie” Williams, and next thing you know, he’s cooing to a lady friend over the impossibly smooth Lex Luger-produced “Grooveline, Pt. 1”: “Fresh out the shower / Let me smell your hair / Garnier Fructis got my knees weak / Let’s cuddle in these sheets.”
And Schoolboy doesn’t just easily skip between talk of Crips and conditioner: He moves fluidly among whole sub-genres of hip-hop. The heady “Sacrilegious” is a harsh examination of religion, while “Sexting,” is pretty much exactly what one would expect of a track called “Sexting” — it’s raunchy and hastily tossed off. “Nightmare on Figg Street” is a bumpy ride through a notorious L.A. strip, and “My Homie” is a detailed account of a friend’s betrayal and dotted with childhood memories (“Remember them Cheerios? / Ninja Turtles on my grandma’s floor / I’m like fa sho / Donatello”).
Schoolboy Q dabbles in gangster rap, player rap, weirdo rap, socially aware rap, weed rap and party rap — and, with the help of an amazing assortment of producers (from the aforementioned Virginia native Luger to the District’s Best Kept Secret crew), he excels at all.
“My Homie,” “Grooveline, Pt. 1,”
“Nightmare on Figg Street”