By John Wong and Christina Masterson
I don’t even care that we’re only about a month into the new year because it has become clear that we are all going to be bitch-slapped by the powerful hand that is music in 2014. Let me elaborate: there is buzz everywhere about new music from established and up-and-coming artists alike,, and most of it looks at least a little promising (with a few shining standouts like Phantogram and Azealia Banks). While 2013 has brought music audiences some of the best work ever created (shoutout to 2 Chainz), 2014 is – beyond a shadow of a doubt – the year of ScHoolboy Q. And here is why.
Most of you will look back at music in 2013 and remember two things: 1) Kendrick Lamar and 2) labias. Kendrick Lamar became the poster child for hip-hop fans desperate to listen to anything other than Drake’s bitching and Miley Cyrus pushed the limits of how far that leotard could ride up your crotch before you exposed your no-no square on national television.
Obviously there were many other things that happened in music that year, but the two memorable incidents mentioned above provide us with an idea of where music is heading in 2014. Kendrick will most likely release his follow-up to 2012’s critically and commercially acclaimed Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, and Miley Cyrus will continue enriching us about the female anatomy. YAWN. The thing is, music is a business. It’s always going to need new faces, new talents, new voices in order to stay relevant because there are only so many times Taylor Swift can remind us that she is just an innocent but misunderstood girl singing about her various failed relationships before we all realize that she has actually been laid by half of Hollywood.
Enter ScHoolboy Q.
If Kendrick is the king of hip-hop at the moment, Q is ready to assume his rightful position as prince. They might be label mates, but I’m going to guess that this could potentially turn ugly should Q overthrow Kendrick from his throne one day. His upcoming album, Oxymoron, set to be released in March 2014, already has music critics and audiences salivating. He has released multiple songs on mixtapes in the past, and while interest has been steady in those years from the underground hip-hop community and Pitchfork readers, his fan base began to climb when he released the singles “Yay Yay,” “Collard Greens” and “Man of the Year,” all of which have performed successfully on iTunes and other charts alike. Each song has a smooth, breezy beat coupled with Q’s slick and confident rhymes that, upon listening, will send audiences into a trip equivalent to taking 3 Xanax pills and cruising down Mulholland Drive in a chrome Ferrari with red leather seats and two Brazilian dancers on your lap.
You see, the songs on this album are not just about coke addictions and making love to expensive prostitutes like material produced by Q’s contemporaries (Rick Ross); it’s about the personal and careless world of Q. He’s not here to appeal to everybody and you definitely will not find him making poorly Auto-Tuned ballads like Lil Wayne. Just by listening to the first singles released from the album, it is clear that ScHoolboy Q has perfected a sound that he wants his music to have, and listeners either love it or they don’t. It’s not noise you put on after someone, most likely a college white girl, obnoxiously yells, “TURN UP!” Rather, Q’s music makes the listener focus on his technical ability to not just rap about fat asses, but retrace his story from the ruthless streets of South Central, Los Angeles to up-and-coming lyricist in the company of Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky.
The beats are not the traditional bells and whistles found in braggadocio rap songs made by Ace Hood and Ross, but maybe that’s a good thing. Q has a knack for slowing things down a bit, but that doesn’t mean the music is soft. Enlisting the help of producers Clams Casino and Pharrell Williams (even producing some of the material himself), ScHoolboy Q has found an almost-perfect medium between dirty south rap bangers and slowed-down hip-hop anthems. His songs will definitely make for some great moments whether you’re slow-humping with some drunk girl or guy at a party or chillin’ in a room with some homies on a Saturday afternoon.
The good news is that even before the release of Oxymoron, ScHoolboy Q has already announced a 2014 world tour, where fans will get the chance to see what is very likely hip-hop’s “Next Big Thing.” With his acclaimed songs and impeccable onstage energy, the tour is bound to thrill domestically and abroad. There’s no question Q’s got the talent, and if he sticks to what has made him so successful in the future, he’s bound to be the Man of the Year – not just for 2014, but for years to come as well.