ScHoolboy Q – Habits and Contradictions (Review)

Posted on Wednesday, 25th January 2012 @ 11:14 AM by Text Size A | A | A

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Black Hippy is building itself into quite the empire. Ab-Soul’s LongTerm Mentality was a phenomenal and extremely underappreciated West Coast effort, and the group’s rising star Kendrick Lamar’s Section 80 was one of 2011’s best releases, combining futuristic elect-production with thoughtful, instinctive lyricism reminiscent of the great Tupac Shakur. After delivering a show-stealing verse on ‘Brand New Guy’ off of A$AP Rocky’s mixtape LiveLoveA$AP, many were left asking ‘Where’s that new ScHoolboy Q tape dropping?’ With Habits and Contradictions, ScHoolboy continues the group’s winning streak and proves once again that the TDE crew is one to be reckoned with.

Similar to his Black Hippy counterparts, Q is a master at picking beats that cater to his overall sound. One can make a case that the majority of tracks on the LP would fit right in with Section 80. The production on the tape is dark and hazy, adding an ominous feel which fits perfectly next to ScHoolboy’s growling, aggressive delivery. The opening track ‘Sacrilegious’ is Q at his mellowest as he spews the troubles and realities of life in the urban community. Lamar shows up on ‘Blessed’, but it’s ScHoolboy who drops the realest lines of his career in his second verse (Now how the f**k I’m ‘posed to say this?/You see, my ni**a just lost his son while I’m here huggin’ on my daughter/I grip her harder/Kiss her on the head as I cry for a bit…)

What makes Habits and Contradictions different from other TDE releases is the aggressive temperament displayed throughout. ScHoolboy is a tremendously skilled rapper with a plethora of flows, as he sounds comfortable over any beat thrown in his direction. But not only does he sound in control, he sounds irate, almost as if he wants to gnaw your head off after every line he raps. On the head-nodding ‘Nightmare On Figg Street’ where they sample Jay-Z and Kanye’s ‘N*ggas In Paris’, ScHoolboy takes no prisoners, dropping violent threats throughout (won’t stop shooting ‘til they all red tho/yellow tape, muf***a shoulda yield, h*e/why you all tough, tho?/See ya thug ass later at the crossroads…). ‘Raymond 1969’ is unadulterated Crip music where “murder, murder kill, get ya f**king cap peeled” is the lone mantra.

However, Habits and Contradictions isn’t a violent album, as the primary topics at hand usually revolve around women, alcohol and marijuana. Q is without a doubt the ‘party boy’ of the Black Hippy collective and he consistently conveys his affection for his vices throughout the tape. The album standout ‘Hands on the Wheel’ features the aforementioned A$AP Rocky, as they both confess that life for them is “weed and brews.” Destructive? Yes. But the track is so intoxicating, you have no choice but to sing along. The bouncy ‘Druggys with Hoes Again’ is another gem, and features an excellent verse from Ab-Soul. Jet Life general Curren$y and LA’s own Dom Kennedy also stop by to grace the silky smooth ‘Grooveline Pt. 1’.

It’s apparent that ScHoolboy’s greatest asset is his versatility and stream of conscious flows, which he has at abundance. He can be forceful and real, yet playful and calm. But all in all, he’s aware of his inconsistencies and relishes in conveying both sides of his personality to the listener. And whatever side you decide to visualize, Q should be applauded for successfully balancing topics of self-awareness and occasional mayhem to create a cohesive album that should please both the loyal Black Hippy fanbase and new followers alike. Now, who said contradictions were bad?

Rating: 8.5/10

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