“Huh… Last time I showed up at Sonos Studio, there was a lot less weed.”

That was my first thought after entering the crowded space for Schoolboy Q’s listening party. Young men and women and more men donning snapbacks and hoodies jostled shoulder to shoulder, waiting for the man to take his place on stage. Eventually Q wormed his way through the crowd to the stage, blunt fully lit, and the listening party for Oxymoron began.

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So what about this new record? Oxymoron is easily one of the most anticipated hip-hop albums of the year, and so far, the tracks that I’ve heard put it well ahead of anything else. Habits and Contradictions was a great, grimy gangsta rap record that really solidified his style, while Oxymoron is the artist’s first album released under a major label, and the featured artists list reads like a who’s who of West Coast hip hop. New blood, such as Tyler the Creator, rub musical shoulders with OGs like Kurupt.

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It was cool to hear some of the new record in person, live, fresh from the smoky lungs of Q himself. He kinda stood around while they played cuts from the album and people recorded it on their cell phones. If that sounds a little awkward, it’s because it was (I was doing to same thing, though, so I can’t complain). He did interact with the crowd a bit, shaking hands and signing.

Things felt a lot more natural when he started rapping. What’s crazy to me is how fast a crowd can go from a stoned torpor to turnt in a split second. He performed “Collard Greens,” “Blind Threats,” and my personal favorite track “F**k LA.” Don’t worry. It’s not actually a track dedicated to dissing everyone’s favorite city. After all, Q is from here along with his other Black Hippy labelmates. “Blind Threats” stuck out to me in particular as well. Lyrically it’s clever, even if the content covers the same hustler lifestyle that defines the genre.

If you’re not sure what to expect from Schoolboy Q or you’re not sure what the buzz is all about, I’ll try and break it down. He’s a rapper from Los Angeles who gained fame and notoriety a few years before people even started taking notice of Kendrick Lamar (the same could be said for Jay Rock, too). If you’re expecting Oxymoron to be some kind of Good Kid, Mad City wannabe…don’t. Both artists are storytellers, but the tales they tell are not the same.

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Oxymoron is due out next Tuesday, February 25th. Check it out in its entirety then.

For more info:

SchoolBoy Q