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Schoolboy Q on “Habits and Contradictions”

By John Sosnowski in Arts & Entertainment

March 8, 2012

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Last year, the hip-hop world, and to some extent the entire indie music universe, was captivated by Odd Future’s brand of pop culture references mixed with ultra violent imagery over abrasive beats.

Meanwhile, Kendrick Lamar made major waves with his acclaimed debut album “Section.80,” which brought an innovative style to the table combining wit, forcefulness, and soul.

In short, indie hip-hop was in something of a bipolar state.

Enter Schoolboy Q.

A member of the Black Hippy collective along with Lamar, Q’s new album “Habits & Contradictions” seems to find a comfortable middle ground between these two stylistic extremes. A far cry from Lamar’s renaissance man approach to subject matter, “Habits & Contradictions” primarily discusses casual sex and partying, with rampant interjections of gangsta rap violence.

Those seeking refined, intellectual rap should look elsewhere.

Despite his harsh lyrical technique, Q demonstrates plenty of poetry and flow on this album, with figurative language and turns of phrase abound. He effortlessly rewrites the book on ways to cleverly describe getting high and hooking up, among other things.

On the track “Sex Drive”, Q constructs an extended metaphor consisting of “teaching you to drive stick,” which may not be the first  comparison of sex to driving, but is one of the most smoothly executed.

The entire trip of an album features an unusual degree of honesty interspersed with the obligatory boasts. Q suggests feelings for the partner in “Sex Drive” with lines like “saying vows, [expletive] around and have a child,” and questions his own lifestyle on tracks like “Sacrilegious” and “Raymond 1969.”

Perhaps the album’s most philosophical moments occur on the sentimental “My Homie” and “Blessings,” the latter of which features a guest spot by Kendrick Lamar.

Overall, Los Angeles rapper Q’s style adds a unique freshness to the vintage West Coast brand by which he seems influenced. This is complemented by beats with a somewhat electronic feel that still maintain enough force to make every track a head-nodder.

This alternate sound from the clique that gave us Kendrick Lamar shows us the group’s diversity, and suggests that they’ll be a tour de force to be reckoned with for years to come.

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