Staff Pick: Schoolboy Q ready to graduate to the big time

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From the March 6, 2014 edition

When Schoolboy Q appeared at the Breakaway Music Festival last September, he performed in a tent outside Crew Stadium while label-slash-running mate Kendrick Lamar rocked the main stage. Oxymoron, the Los Angeles rapper’s third album (and first on a major label), should help him force his way into the headlining spotlight.

The album sports an impressive array of concrete-heavy beats courtesy of big names like Pharrell Williams and Tyler the Creator, and Q navigates these crushing backdrops as adeptly as a townie taking the back roads, rhyming about everything from a drug-addicted relative (“Hoover Street”) to the various chemicals he’s ingested to try and free himself from depression (the string-kissed “Prescription/Oxymoron”). Songs like the boast-laden “Grooveline Pt. 2” are the sonic equivalent of the rapper shouting, “I got next,” and it’s clear throughout he’s got the game to back up his words.

Renata Raksha photo