As a former Crips member, Schoolboy Q often veers into gangsta rap checklist territory, but it always shoots off as authentic. The first track on his 2019 album CrasH Talk is even called Gang Gang, and his 2014 major label debut album Oxymoron detailed much of his previous life slinging drugs in his native Compton.
But Q doesn’t go for bling crib revisionism. OxyMoron was covered in a cloud of cough medicine addiction, while he name-dropped infamous bullet-scarred dealing corners and told his story through paranoia and desperation. It’s also notable that the bills on the CrasH Talk cover are $1 notes — it’s not all about the Benjamins, but the Georges.
While Oxymoron — a self-loathing play on Oxycontin addiction and dealing — offered plenty of light and shade between gang-banging and self-reflection, 2016’s Blank Face was a straight-up gangsta gangsta celebratory gun finger affair.
CrasH Talk feels like a low-stakes album, cruising with guests Travis Scott Ty Dolla $ign, YG, 21 Savage and Kid Cudi, with hooks all over, and a polished, predictable trap bounce.
Still, Q’s reputation as a party boy rapper is secured in his live shows. His first — and only — Irish gig in Vicar Street in 2014 was a gloriously OTT flex, with him bouncing around in a Dubs jersey and pushing himself to the level of almost collapsing. In fairness, he’s got more in shape over the last few years and apparently is clean(ish), so he’ll have plenty of fuel in the tank.
- Schoolboy Q plays the Olympia Theatre in Dublin tonight (Friday)