Life for members of the BT is more than weed and brew, but among our members we’ve found three of them willing to put aside the daily grind for a moment and pen down their thoughts on what surprisingly turns out to be one of the biggest albums of 2012 so far. Want to know how the rest of ‘Habits & Contradictions’ stacks up the bona fide anthem it contains? Read on for a trifecta of opinions.
Schoolboy Q is the next member of the TDE/Black Hippy collective to release his sophomore album, and there are no signs of the infamous ‘sophomore slump’ whatsoever. A knack for emblematic lines and left-field ad-libs help create captivating songs, but Q’s biggest asset is his voice. From an exaggeratedly excited squeak in ‘There He Go’ to a smooth playalistic tone in ‘My Hatin’ Joint,’ a gruff growl in ‘Raymond 1969′ and a menacing snarl in ‘Nightmare On Figg St.,’ he manages to give his voice the perfect pitch, tone and shift in emotion to fit the song to a tee. This is the type of album to play for a person who is still mistakenly convinced rap is just talking rythmically on drums and it can’t convey a plethora of, for lack of a better term, ‘voice-acting’ like traditional singing can. With his voice fully committed to whatever type of atmosphere the song needs and an ear for brooding, dope beats not overly concerned with sounding like what they’re expected to be, Schoolboy Q quite possibly already has one of the standout-albums of the year under his belt.
For those concerned with the musical direction of the new school, ‘Habits & Contradictions’ is the answer for you. Schoolboy Q’s maintenance of his sound is refreshing as a backdrop for lyrics that have not quite decided on their style yet. Kendrick’s lieutenant has clearly been influenced by much of the music of other active artists which deters from any argument of originality that could be made. However, despite a singular, glaring chink in his armor ‘Habits & Contradictions’ is a strong offering driven by sonic unity and a brazen simplicity of narrative style. The album is palatable for broad audiences touching on several common denominators while also relying heavily on local experiences. Q’s sophomore effort promises to continue opening doors to a blossoming career.
“Life for me is just weed and brews,” Schoolboy Q proclaims on album standout ‘Hands on the Wheel.’ That’s the mantra, yes, but Q’s process is a bit more intricate than he’s letting on. On ‘Habits & Contradictions’, Schoolboy Q maps the depths of stoner rap with grand, regal anthems that scale unexpected heights of beauty. He’s roundly entertaining, sufficiently bleak (especially when he raps about rent and unemployment). But unlike most ganja heads, he’s not a complete sad sack. Any scintilla of depression is matched by unabashed theatricality. Watch how he randomly samples ‘Niggas in Paris’ with his voice on ‘Nightmare on Figg St.,’ for instance. The music echoes Q’s ruminations with glacial cuts that seemingly nod to everything and everywhere but the west coast. It’s easy to be cynical about Q’s drug-addled odes, but pull back the gray sheer and you’re in for a little more than weed and brews.