Dr. Dre once famously said that this [music] business is entertainment; to believe it to be anything else then that would be “stupid [sic].” ScHoolboy Q, when examined under this lens — for me — has made him a more appealing artist. Not to say that his background in any way doesn’t check out — that’s not what I’m saying. However, a recent interview with Vice revealed the softer side of him: a (former) drug-user and father, who worries that his seven years old will one day stumble upon his music, which will spawn what [he imagines] will be an awkward conversation. His current lifestyle is far from what he portrays in his music, which arguably makes it easier to not only let loose from his perspective but separate himself from his on wax persona. This is something that artists like Kanye have a hard time doing. Schoolboy, while fully bare-faced, becomes an almost MF Doom like character who leads listeners through seedy, drug-laced audio adventures along the drug-infested, violent streets of Compton, California. Of course, there are brief opulent intermissions from his heavy dose of reality, and he takes on personas like Blank Face and Groovy Q.
Blank Face LP, the sophomore seventeen track effort from TDE’s second biggest export, is a moody, well-curated follow-up that doesn’t diverge too far from what worked for Q on his debut effort, Oxymoron. There are numerous impressive features that don’t seem to insist upon themselves — meaning that Q at no point leans on his features. Everything compliments everything. That’s no easy feat; if you’re fan of the funky vibes of Kendrick’s TPB, you’ll love the production here. “THat Part,” featuring Yeezy Kardashian and a new version of “Groovy Tony,” featuring the self-proclaimed Top 5 DOA Jadakiss are the most obvious stand-outs (off the jump). Q spazzes on joints with Vince Staples, the Dogg Pound, and even Bay-Area rap god E-40 on the bassy “Dope Dealer.” He switches up the vibe at a few points, too. “Kno Ya Wrong,” featuring the [mhsterious] Lance Skiiwalker, and the closest thing to a girl track on the album, “Overtime,” featuring Miguel and Justine Skye.
I’ll put out there that my (personal) fave moments on this album are “Neva CHange” and “Black THougHts.” “Neva CHange,” which has a hook from Jersey songstress SZA, is an ode to project heads that never seem to elevate and get their shit together; whether it’s personal — or not — is curious. It sounds personal, though. “Black THougHts” has an ill jazzy sample that sees Q breaking down his upbringing, and breaking down walls — even proclaiming the need for both sides to unite. He even uses the concept of all lives matter to refer to both “sides” [bloods and crips]: “Let’s put the drugs down and raise our kids, let’s put the guns down and raise our spliffs.”
Q is the product of the California sun-kissed, gang-ridden streets — and that comes across in his music. But he’s also made it out and is in a position where he’s making serious cash alongside the biggest crew in the game. He’s making [his] world a better place for his daughter to grow up in. Blank Face is a lot of the same old ScHoolboy you’ve come to love — but with a dose of newfound retrospective [know better do better] sentiment in the mix. All in all, he’s made his growth apparent; It’s an excellent sequel to a noteworthy debut.