Schoolboy Q grows up on Blank Face LP

During his recent Groovy Tony Pit Stop set in Chicago on July 11, Schoolboy Q set the emotional tone straight away.

"I'm tired as a motherf****r, but I'mma still turn up,” Quincy Hanley informed the audience.

Q fully lived up to the ying/yang emotional residence through the unprecedented--yet understandably short---hour-long set. As each song began, he quickly found inner-strength to showcase his signature aggressive energy. Full commitment.

If that’s Hyde, the gangster rapper’s Jekyll struggled to stay standing between songs. Clutching a white rally towel, he rested against the DJ booth seemingly reeling from the previous song. All while moments later jumping fully into the next tune.

Where Quincy struggled for energy, the boisterous audience quickly adapted to the unplanned audience-requested format. Between Oxymoron staples “Man of the Year” and “Yay Yay,” the audience demanded new tracks from his sophomore album Blank Face LP released just days prior. A surprise to Quincy, he pondered if the audience had yet memorized the lyrics to newer songs like “Dope Dealer.” Indeed, they had.

Q’s comments of fatigue preluded a potentially disappointing show. Instead, an communal energy manifested. The audience request driven show fostered an intimate set often lacking in the usual rap concert.

As he mentioned, Schoolboy Q certainly had a long week. In addition to a stops as part of the Groovy Tony Pit Stop, he released his much-anticipated new album Black Face LP.

But that’s not it. The music video release of “Black THougHts” served as the satisfying finale in his Blank Face trilogy. The previous two weeks saw the release of “By All Means” and “Tookie Knows II.”

Schoolboy Q’s recent projects debuted in the wake of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile murders. For many, the grave news prevented full enjoyment of the new offerings.

Much to his credit, Q addressed glum fans on Twitter:

The album notably addresses some of the societal talking points encompassing the recent events. Blank Face LP is an intricate examination of society through the eyes of a emotionally-torn rapper experiencing both the good and bad society offers to the black community. Schoolboy Q is a modern-day commentator, but one still figuring out what he stands for.

On the uncharacteristically slow “Blank Face,” Q along with Anderson .Paak reflect on a mid-twenties crisis of age.  “Run from the police, jump from the ledge/ Be what you wanna be as long as you get the money right, yeah/ N****s don’t understand until you leap over 25” .Paak's panicky grovel contrasts perfectly against Quincy’s confused calm. 

This nuanced examination is a high point on an album full of excellence. Quincy certainly delivers radio ready singles challenging Chance the Rapper and Kanye West’s dominance. However, the album is fully conceptual. His quality attempt at peer Kendrick Lamar's masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly.

“TorcH” opens Blank Face LP with signature aggression. However, the guitar-heavy base production gives way to an ominous tone. Quincy certainly discussed personal struggles on Oxymoron, particularly his drug use, but this is a different inner-battle. An identity crisis inherently giving way to societal tribulation.

Q progresses with this overarching theme while experimenting with jazz and blues beats. Notably, on "Neva CHange" His sound is evolving alongside the lyrical maturity. This isn't any frivolously produced album, rathe TDE and Q had a clear focus. 

Quincy isn’t like most artists. And, he knows that.  During the show the rapper acknowledged the effects of his exhaustion.  

“As you can tell my voice is f****d up,” he said. “Most artists woulda cancelled; I said no Imma do this s**t.”

Q is learning to embrace his responsibility. To his family, to his fans, and most notably to himself. The Blank Face LP showcases his gangster roots while accepting new roles as a father and cultural figure. Schoolboy Q’s platform is growing quickly, and like the most successful of his peers, he’s growing with it.