It took me some time to figure out that, though I wanted to appreciate Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, I really prefer Lamar as a featured guest on other rapper’s projects. I was on the fence about labelmate Schoolboy Q until I received a copy of his latest project, Oxymoron. While each track features quality production in terms of achieving what they were going for, as a whole this album is all over the place and a little too trendy for its own good. There’s a studied lackadaisical element to Schoolboy’s flow that just comes off as lazy in parts and potentially genius in others. Hopefully, him finding more consistency comes in time.
Intoxication seems to be a running theme and therein lies the problem. However, while one could enjoy anything in Cypress Hill’s catalog without ever touching weed, it seems like Schoolboy’s music requires some heavier drugs to actually tolerate for more than two consecutive tracks. The unimaginative and excruciatingly repetitive hooks and Q’s tendency to ramble on and yelp in the background incessantly made small doses of this album the only viable option for replay value. The EDM/trap influence also made tracks like “Hell Of A Night”, “Los Awesome” and “Prescription/Oxymoron” difficult to tolerate and will also make sure that this album remains right in the here and now due to trendiness. It’s far from a timeless effort and just doesn’t succeed as one cohesive vision like good kid, m.A.A.d city did, though dedicated fans of Q’s will have a good time with it.
“The Purge” featuring Tyler The Creator and Kurupt was a standout for me, if only because I appreciated hearing a Kurupt verse. The hook’s repetition of the words “yeah, nigga” seemed like lazy filler between verses. Another guest, Raekwon, outshines Schoolboy on “Blind Threats”, another standout on the album with top notch production reminiscent of classic Wu with a modern touch. “What They Want” featuring 2 Chainz was predictably garbage while I marveled about the great things that could have been done by better artists on “Studio”, which featured BJ the Chicago Kid in a typical “I sing but look, I curse and talk about vagina like I’m a rapper, how cool!” fashion.
Maybe I’m just too old. I came up in an era where dudes pushed the pills to rave-goers, but you were a weirdo if you were taking them…and now it’s all certain guys rap about. But I also realize when something isn’t personally for me but is well done and this isn’t that. While Schoolboy’s Molly-addled fans will probably eat this up, I don’t see this as the kind of album people will be talking about in a year. But in the age of a la carte music purchases, nobody gives a shit about long-players or about making cohesive albums intended to be listened to all the way through. In reading some of the other reviews for this album, I sometimes get the feeling that reviewers are finding new ways to say the same things about the “hot” album. One can’t help but think that some of these music sites act in the interest of staying on the good side of whoever’s “on” at the moment. That isn’t to say that Oxymoron is undeserving of positive opinions, but some of the praise seems to be over the top, which I’m sure is fueled by the significant anticipation that’s been building for it since last year. This is a very now record, whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad one, but I’m of the mind-set that even things that come off as current should still show some sign of being playable a year out from their release and I unfortunately don’t see that for Oxymoron. Here’s to wanting better for Ab-Soul’s expected 2014 release…hopefully with a more palatable feature from Schoolboy on it.