ScHoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions (Album Review & Full Stream)
On Janurary 14th, LA native, Top Dawg Ent signee, and Black Hippy member ScHoolboy Q released his highly-anticipated Habits & Contradictions – the second full-length release from Q, on the heels of 2011′s Setbacks. Read the VTT review, stream in full, and find more below.
Review by Naveed Ahmad (@NaveedMBS)
Within the first minute of “Listen To The School Boy,” the opening track off then 21-year old Quincy Hanley’s 2008 debut mixtape, Schoolboy Turned Hustla, there’s a drug reference. “Sitting in the crack spot/chopping up the crack rock/keep a quarter piece up in my mouth in case the cops watch,” Hanley snarls, over a creeping beat laced with piano. The entire tape is a talented collection of aggressive rhymes, drug-sale bravado, and genuine attachment to Hoover Street, the place where Hanley grew up…
Yet less than a year later, on a much more soulful “Live Life,” off the aptly titled Gangsta & Soul, he seems to have a change of heart. “Made a little dough from the fast life/now I’m on the mic trying to spread light/sounds like/hip-hop,” he muses. Gangsta & Soul seemed to showcase an artist who was trying to leave his street life behind, dropping bars about how he was “done with dope fiends,” sampling A Tribe Called Quest on tracks like “World Tour,” and doing outright ATCQ covers with songs like “Bonita.” There were flashes of the street posturing on tracks such as “Hands In The Air (Bitch Nigga),” but for the most part, Quincy Hanley seemed bent on evolving into a more substantive MC.
Purchase: ScHoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions
With the release of his second album, Habits & Contradictions, off L.A.-based record label Top Dawg Entertainment, Quincy Hanley, artistically known as Schoolboy Q, has left his life of drug-dealing behind. However, his past has seemingly crept up on him in cruel fashion, as Habits & Contradictions showcases an MC who now seems obsessed with drug use as opposed to drug sales. The result is a dark, nihilistic piece of work that concurrently packs a punch because of the strong ear and quality flow of Schoolboy Q.
There were inklings of Q’s new habits on his 2011 album, Setbacks, as he referenced use of Xanax, codeine, and MDMA. “Please don’t tell my momma I’ve been taking ecstasy,” he would snicker on “To Tha Beat (F’d Up).”
Yet on Habits & Contradictions, the drug use joke becomes an all-about embrace, complemented by spaced out, gloomy beats, courtesy of Digi+Phonics, The Alchemist, and the Harlem-based A$AP crew, among others.
“Heroin/ecstasy/OxyContin/Vicodin/Coca-Cola/everything up in our genes/even methamphetamines/get this bread by any means/PCP/LSD/transactions/frequently,” he spits on “2 Raw,” featuring a growling sixteen from fellow T.D.E. label-mate Jay Rock.
The content doesn’t take away from the quality of the work. Much like 2011 blog sensation A$AP Rocky, who makes an appearance on the dynamite “Hands On The Wheel,” Schoolboy Q represents a new class of rappers who have clearly been influenced by the darker, moodier hip-hop of the last 2-3 years. “Hands On The Wheel” brilliantly takes a sample from Illinois folk singer Lissie, who in turn was covering Kid Cudi’s 2010 track, “Pursuit of Happiness”. “Weed and brews/weed and brews/life for me/is just weed and brews,” chants Schoolboy Q, and you can’t help but enjoy the ride. “Groovline (Part I),” featuring L.A.’s-own Dom Kennedy, as well as New Orleans’ Curren$y, is a smooth, funky track, featuring production from Lex Luger, of all people.
Most of the album, however, is laced with creepy beats, and even creepier rhymes.
On the opening track, “Sacrilegious,” accompanied by a music video where Q apparently takes his own life, he drops lines like “survival is my main concern,” and “…I did some things I don’t think I could ever wash away.” Furthermore, on tracks like “Nightmare On Figg St.,” Q addresses his mother again, this time saying, “She can see it in my eyes/I lost my mind.” This despite the track opening with a clever cover of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Niggas In Paris,” a musical trend surely to recur throughout 2012.
Music, as an art, welcomes exaggeration and sensationalism, particularly in an outsider genre such as hip-hop. Yet unlike the goofy, shock rhymes of Odd Future or rich, drug-lord exaggerations of Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q brings a gritty realism with Habits & Contradictions that overpowers you with its sense of emptiness. It makes you wonder what Quincy Hanley is really going through: what he sees as a habit, and what he sees as a contradiction.
That’s not a knock against the man or the music, but rather, an observation.
- Hands On The Wheel (Ft. A$AP Rocky)
- Nightmare On Figg St.
- 2 Raw (Ft. Jay Rock)