After Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed record, good kid, m.A.A.d city, dominated the hip-hop world in 2013, fans are on the lookout for the genre’s next breakout star. They may not have to look much further than Lamar’s own LA rap clique—Black Hippy—to find their answer: Schoolboy Q.
A little rougher around the edges than Lamar, the 27-year-old ex-gangbanger has cleaned up his act since becoming a father, but he’s not entirely ready to give up all of his old ways. Admittedly addicted to codeine and seemingly perma-stoned, Schoolboy Q isn’t ready to stop partying quite yet. The last time he rolled through Portland (opening for A$AP Rocky in late 2012), he left Roseland Theater’s stage with two audience members’ bras hanging from his neck. In short: Schoolboy Q shows are usually a pretty good time.
Overweight, hooked on cough syrup, and still in the process of coping with a checkered past, Q is anything but perfect—and he’s the first to admit it. This goes a long way to making his new LP, Oxymoron, about as relatable as a gangster rap album can be in 2014. Through a malleable flow that, at times, stretches to cartoonish levels (but always manages to stay gruff and menacing), his songs deal with the contradictions involved in attempting to grow up and leave a crime-ridden past that is largely responsible for shaping his identity and earning the successes he enjoys today. All of this adds up to make Schoolboy Q one of rap’s most interesting up-and-comers.