Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron
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Schoolboy Q has not bothered the upper regions of the Billboard Hot 100. Indeed, he has been for quite some time now the musical secret of many a music lover. Luckily, whereas some major label debuts from previously independent artists result in largely unidentifiable material from artists that were once sonically unique, Oxymoron does not suffer this fate. Indeed, when listening to Schoolboy Q's major label debut, it is clear that this is not so much an introduction to a new sound, but instead a record that acts as a culmination of the mixtapes and independent releases that preceded it.
Much like long-time collaborator Kendrick Lamar's major label breakthrough, Oxymoron is as musically diverse as it is rich in lyrical content. Indeed, the lyrics tell stories based over rich, intricate production that make for a sonically interesting listen. From the opener 'Gangsta', in which Q's delivery is appropriately potent against the loud and trippy instrumentation, to the calmer sounds of 'Grooveline Pt.2' and 'Blind Threats', Oxymoron is a vehicle in which Schoolboy Q demonstrates his artistic versatility to devastatingly brilliant effect.
What makes Oxymoron just so enjoyable is its sheer impressiveness as a body of work. Although Oxymoron veers into various areas of the musical landscape, it does so with ease, never once sounding muddled or confused. Meanwhile, contributors such as Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz and Suga Free bring a lot to proceedings, but never overshadow the main event - Schoolboy Q himself. 'Studio' makes for an early highlight - it strikes perfectly the balance between a musically interesting sound and a sound perfect for radio. Additionally, 'Collard Greens' still sounds as good as it did on its first spin way back in Summer 2013 and the dreamy 'Grooveline Pt.2' is destined to accompany Summer afternoon BBQs on both sides of the pond.
At times, Oxymoron does feel like a rather stretched out affair. At fifteen tracks long, with some running over the six-minute mark, it's not the quickest of listens. That being said, some of the record's most impressive moments come from the longest tracks. 'Prescription-Oxymoron' is a brilliant two-part opus whilst 'Break The Bank' is a gloriously mellow event, not too dissimilar from Kendrick Lamar's 'Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst'. Both are quite simply mellow masterpieces.
Oxymoron marks Schoolboy Q's arrival as a major label artist well. It's an event; a body of work that does exactly what a major label debut record should do - provide new listeners with a sound to invest in. From beginning to end, this is an impressive record that acts as a perfect introduction to a mainstream audience - it supports the sheer hype that has surrounded him for so long.
Indeed, Schoolboy Q has, in this record, reaffirmed his status as artist creating sonically interesting music that looks beyond conventional musicality. Make no mistake, Oxymoron is rather brilliant, and provides a perfect foundation to build upon in later releases. An exciting release from an exciting artist.