There’s something like a renaissance, we’ve been told, in Los Angeles hip-hop right now. The success of good kid, m.A.A.d. city sparked renewed interest in hip-hop’s second-oldest metropolis. ScHoolboy Q is its most evident benefactor. He's racked up enough praise (and pre-sales) to suggest he’s the lunar counterpart to Lamar’s red-hot sun, refracting the light of his friend and labelmate, the beaming light of success illuminating all the cracks and crevices in Q's gruff persona.
Q’s major label debut album Oxymoron—really, his third major project since TDE began to gather national attention—comes out today. It’s a good record, closer in approach to the song-oriented Setbacks than the abstract, jam-packed Habits & Contradictions. Oxymoron shows flashes of brilliance, and the best overall songwriting of ScHoolboy’s career. The elusiveness of style that makes Q an intriguing character is also ultimately a limitation, and one that he shares with his city, as it attempts to shrug off the weight of three decades of hip-hop history. Unlike so many other Angelenos, though, Q seems completely unconcerned.