There is a reason TDE has been the “Top Dawg” of Hip-Hop over the past few years. The Los Angeles, Calif., based entertainment company has released albums independently since 2010. On July 6, 2011, Watts, Calif., rapper Jay Rock released “Follow Me Home” under Tech N9ne‘s Strange Music Inc. making Jay Rock the first TDE artist to get his album distributed to retailers. TDE hit big with Kendrick Lamar‘s “Good Kid, mA.A.d city” after landing a distribution deal with Interscope Records in 2012. The joint release was highly acclaimed by critics and fans alike and landed Kendrick four Grammy nominations. With all the success ScHoolboy Q’s label mates endured, there were big shoes for Q to fill with his Feb. 25, 2014, major label debut “Oxymoron.”
Apparently the pressure to succeed did not phase ScHoolboy Q. “Oxymoron” grabs your attention from the moment you start the album. Unlike ScHoolboy Q’s previously released independent albums “Setbacks” and “Habits & Contradictions,” “Oxymoron” has a more hard-core West Coast feel. This change in sound shows his creative growth which makes it stand out above competition.
“Oxymoron” has a wide variety of artists featured throughout the album. Newer rappers like 2 Chainz and Hip-Hop veterans like Kurupt join ScHoolboy on his lyrical journey. The Hip-Hop veterans show why they’re lyrical heavyweights by stealing the show away from ScHoolboy Q on each track they are featured on. On “Blind Threats” Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon rapped to the point where you almost completely forget about Q’s previous verse. The newer artists, however, were hit-and-miss. ScHoolboy Q’s TDE label mate, Kendrick Lamar, helped bring “Collard Greens” to its full potential while Tyler, The Creator proves to be a waste of space on “The Purge.”
When it comes to the production the album is pretty diverse. Tracks like “Los Awesome” get the listener hype while others like “Studio” put the listener at ease. ScHoolboy Q does a good job at adjusting to both types of beats. The production does lose its constancy on a few tracks like “Hoover Street” and “The Purge” where the beats so basic and boring that not even Kurupt’s lyrical ability could save the listener from falling asleep. Those two tracks aside, the production is pretty solid.
On Aug. 14, 2013, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania rapper Mac Miller told Hardknock TV “Oxymoron” is better than Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, mA.A.d city.” Would I agree with Mac Miller’s bold statement? No. But “Oxymoron” is a close runner-up that will appeal to both mainstream and underground Hip-Hop fans.
Overall Rating: B+