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Schoolboy Q's 'Oxymoron' draws average 'hip-hopinions'

By Scott E Hall
On March 17, 2014

Schoolboy Q's "Oxymoron" topped the the US album chart this week. This isn't a bad thing, considering the top spot was held by the "Frozen" soundtrack last week. The snow has melted, and it's time to "Let It Go." Get it? Get it? Man, I crack myself up.

Anyway, I will use this album to explain my thoughts on hip-hop. With most genres, I can shell out facts and judge music with my trivial knowledge and keen ear for production. However, the critical acclaim for hip-hop is more opinion-based than universal. Two people rarely agree on hip-hop preferences. Some of my favorite rap albums from last year came from Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, Ka, Run the Jewels and Kanye West. You've heard of some of these artists; probably not all of them. They don't have much in common with each other, but they all have distinguishable personalities. A personality is what I want from a hip-hop album.

California rapper Schoolboy Q's personality has been developing for the last couple years. I hated his bucket hat image at first, although it's kind of growing on me; just like his music. "Oxymoron" has more to offer than Schoolboy's 2012 release "Habits & Contradictions." This album is more focused and consistently enjoyable. However, it's full of little annoying hip-hop pet peeves. Since this album contains a mixture of both awesome and stupid attributes of rap music, I'll use it as a guide to my hip-hop opinions. "Hip-hopinions."

Good hip-hop: Lots of people out there think I dig old-school hip-hop more than modern hip-hop. Well ... I do. However, I want to hear progress in the hip-hop world. I love me some Wu-Tang Clan and Public Enemy, but sounding exactly like them can be a turn-off. Songs like "Gangsta," "Break the Bank" and "Collard Greens" may come off as annoying to old-school purists, but these are great sing-along tracks with hidden, blended-in doses of echoed production. By the way, Kendrick Lamar's verse on "Collard Greens" is tight.

My favorite tracks are "Los Awesome," "Hoover Street" and "Blind Threats." "Blind Threats" is a chilling, personal track that features Wu-Tang veteran Raekwon and some smoky instrumentation. Even more personal is the scary, lengthy life story "Hoover Street." With these two tracks, Schoolboy Q reveals his dark past in a musically innovative way, which is pure gold songwriting in my hip-hopinion. "Los Awesome" does the exact opposite, yet it's totes my jam. In short: hot rhythms section, sick Jay Rock verse, "Chilling cool, cool with you!"

Bad hip-hop: "Oxymoron" starts off impressive, but the rest of the album could definitely be better. "What They Want" is a very bad song. I've heard my share of rap songs about sex. In my hip-hopinion, you have to be pretty darn clever to make one that's actually good. This track is simply too bland and wastes more than four minutes of your time. The "go-go-go" chants on "Hell of a Night" sound somewhat embarrassing. It's an unnecessary detour to the club. I honestly tried to enjoy the album's centerpiece "Prescription/Oxymoron," but at seven minutes, I found it painfully long-winded. I can only stand hearing Schoolboy's obnoxious voice crying, "I just stopped selling crack today," so many times.

Perhaps this album isn't necessarily amazing, but it has some unexpected moments and it's actually a worthwhile listen. I thought I'd hate it, but "Oxymoron" is fairly enjoyable.

MY RATING: 7.5/10

Scott Hall is a newcomer to the world of journalism. He is studying public relations and stage management at USU. His spare time is dedicated to music. For more, email scottehall3@gmail.com.

By Scott E

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