Before LA got the Rams back, they have had hip-hop artists continue to represent their county through their music, sticking together like a team that lives to make sure their city never gets forgotten about. One of the artists that has done his part to put on for his team in ScHoolboy Q, 29 year-old hip-hop artist out of South Central who is signed to Top Dawg Entertainment a subset of Interscope Records. His most recent release is his second major label album, and he is beginning to prove that he has the ability to do it on his own using his own unique sound that we're not accustomed to hearing from LA hip-hop artists.
ScHoolboy Q - Blank Face LP
Released July 8, 2016
The first time I heard of ScHoolboy Q was in 2011, when he released a song featuring A$AP Rocky called "Hands on the Wheel" that samples the legend Kid Cudi's classic hit "Pursuit of Happiness" When I heard it, I was intrigued because the lyrics sounded like something out of a party song, referring to smoking weed and drinking and women. But the beat was deeper than that, sounding like something out of a horror movie, with samples of sounds of deep voices and screaming and screeching cars. Then you watch the video and you see a guy with tattoos on his face, one being a cursive Q and the other a music note, so you can visually see that this guy is serious about his career and representing who he is. So just from that video, I instantly became hooked to his fresh sound.
This being his second major label album, many look at an artists' sophomore work as the most important because it gives the audience a chance to see if they are capable of continuing to grow on their rookie success or if they are just a flash in the pan. After listening to this album a few times through, I can say that I believe he is going to be here for a long while. He lets his roots of South Central be heard and felt in his music and seen with the visuals in his videos. His lyrics talk about committing crimes, gang affiliation, and probably the most heartfelt lyrics are when he talks about his daughter. He holds nothing back, admitting that he has been associated with a gang called 52 Hoover Gangster Crips since the age of 12. Letting his sins be heard through his music, he calls himself out on everything from his past to his present. In songs such as "Tookie Knows" he says "We might die for this shit nigga, might go down for this shit nigga. Gang banging this crip shit, we might die for this shit nigga." Holding nothing back, he lets it known exactly who he is and what raised him.
Gangs have historically throughout our nation been looked at as a negative thing, and for the majority of what they represent is negative. But lately my eyes have opened to a lot, and I have realized that our country has been built by gangs, including by the government. We have political parties that defend each other against others, we have military that protects our land, and we have police that protects the government and the extremely outdated Constitution and occasionally protects the citizens of this country. So for kids growing up in environments where they are taught to defend their family, goods, and soil; gangs are often one of the only options they see fit. I'm not going to sit here and say that gangs are a good thing, but when people are put into adverse situations, there aren't always a lot of options. For him to be able to use his gang association in his music, to connect to people who are out there doing what he did in the past, I believe is a good thing. There will never be a solution to gangs because the police and government are fighting street gangs with their gangs so it will continue to go back and forth. But if there is a way for people like ScHoolboy Q to use their platform to show the struggles they've gone through to prove that being yourself is always important, then maybe one day more gangs will come together as one. But until then, the music will keep playing, and the people of the "United" States of America will keep judging people like ScHoolboy Q and where they've come from.
"Lets put out brains away from gangs. Crips and Bloods the old and new slaves. . . But I'm gonna freedom write, Lets put the flags down and raise our kids, Lets put the guns down and blaze a spliff. . . Real shit, All Lives Matter, both sides."
- Black Thoughts
If you don't like hearing about gang violence, drug dealing, and overcoming adversity then this probably isn't for you. But if you like an underdog story, then lend Q an ear.
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.