2014, The Year of Q

Is there any other rapper set to have a bigger year than ScHoolboy Q?

Over the past year or so, the bucket hat-wearing, party-starting member of Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) has released phenomenal singles that show a wide range of not only rapping ability, but beat selection as well. Outside of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock of TDE (not forgetting their newest member, Isaiah Rashad), ScHoolboy Q has recently lent some bars to A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller, Vince Staples, Danny Brown and even Macklemore. Consequently, ScHoolboy Q, through guest appearances, has been gaining some popularity in a variety hip-hop circles.

ScHoolboy Q rocking a bucket hat

With Q’s Oxymoron slated to drop February 25th, there’s a lot to get hyped for. A great place to start would be his second album, Habits & Contradictions. While Kendrick my get recognition from many fans for his versatility, going from a song like “Backseat Freestyle” to “Singing About Me/Dying of Thirst,” Q deserves just as much respect. If you were handed Habits & Contradictions without knowing anything about ScHoolyboy Q, then the first track on the album, “Sacreligious,” might make you think Q skews towards the darker, dreary areas of hip-hop.

But on the very next song, Q flips the script with perhaps his best song to date, “There He Go,” At first, his idiosyncrasies and the somewhat non-traditional beat may be somewhat alienating, but after a couple of listens, you’ll be rapping along with some of the fantastic lines and wordplay. Take this series of lines for example:

Chiefing like a motherfuckin’ Seminole

Here we go, off probation probably go to Me-hi-co

Futhermore, can’t find this in the store, this shit ain’t for the low

Got my daughter swagging like her motherfuckin’ daddy though

Looking at the 3:20 length for “There He Go,” it’s hard to believe the song is that long. It seems to move at an incredible, energetic pace, and leads perfectly into the next track, perhaps Q’s most popular song…

“Hands on the Wheel,” featuring A$AP has really helped Q gain popularity, not only garnering fans by hooking up with Flocko, but also through sampling Kid Cudi’s immensely popular “Pursuit of Happiness.” The combination of rappers has proved to be an especially synergetic formula, with “Brand New Guy” and “PMW” being the highlights from A$AP’s albums. But that’s just the beginning of how ScHoolboy plays well with others.

If songs like “Druggys wit Hoes Again” and the aforementioned “PMW” are any indication, Q fits perfectly in the drug culture side of hip-hop. This suits him perfectly for his guest appearances on Danny Brown’s “Dope Fiend Rental” and the “re-invented” Mac Miller’s “Gees,” which both dropped this past year. What’s so interesting about these two songs is that they showcase two completely different deliveries by ScHoolboy. “Dope Fiend Rental,” off Brown’s Old is an aggressive, banger of song. Meanwhile, on “Gees,” Q has a smoother flow that’s more up stoner rap’s alley…for about half the verse that is. With a slight beat change, Q’s grittier delivery appears, showing how cans really make a song seem to pick up its pace.


He was certainly a change of pace on what was most likely his most-listened-to verse of the year, a feature on Macklemore’s “White Walls.” Though Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ The Heist was released in late 2012, it took a while to blow up, fully reaching its peak in 2013, led by “Thrift Shop,” a song that was seemingly played everywhere. Side note: Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us,” the other big single of The Heist was originally released in 2011, almost two full years before it cracked Billboard‘s Hot 100. ScHoolboy benefitted from the Seattle duo’s success, seeing “White Walls” peak at 15, including a YouTube video that reached 16 million views. For once, the Los Angeles rapper was getting the views he deserved.

But guest appearances, now matter how good they are, will not generate enough hype on their own. Luckily for us, Q has released some absolute gems this year, including perhaps a top 10 hip-hop song of 2013 in “Collard Greens.” The single not only had a great bilingual verse from Kendrick Lamar, it also had one of the best hooks of the year. Q glides over the smooth beat, eliciting a fist-pumping, hip-shaking type of party starting aesthetic. The Kendrick feature certainly helps (and hey, there’s Macklemore in the video…) and it currently has over 11 million views on YouTube.

In an interview with MTV, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1717253/schoolboy-q-gangster-rapper.jhtml Q mentioned that he considers himself to be last of a dying breed: gangster rappers. He went on to say that he had dropped some more commercial/radio-friendly songs on his first two albums (see: “Hands on the Wheel”), but that Oxymoron is going to be truer to who he actually is as a performer. The other singles “Banger,” “Yay Yay,” “Man of the Year,” and “Hell of a Night” all really fit (and exceed) expectations based on what he expressed in the interview. If one thing is clear across all songs, it’s that Q brings a raw, gritty delivery to some really well-produced tracks.

The singles in 2013 have been breadcrumbs, leading to what is hopefully an album forehead contender. In hindsight, the delays may actually benefit Q, avoiding the end of the year competition, particularly from Pusha T’s My Name is My Name. The downside to the early 2014 release is that it can be forgotten in end year reviews (see: Long. Live. A$AP), but if it’s a strong enough album (and leaves a footprint on mainstream music) then he could be the year’s biggest breakout artist.



One response to “2014, The Year of Q

  1. Pingback: Overhyped – A Disappointing Year for Hip-Hop | John Fichera·

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