Hip-Hop

ScHoolboy Q Previews OG-Filled 'Blank Face LP' in New York City

Schoolboy Q
Renata Raksha

Schoolboy Q

On Wednesday night (June 29), ScHoolboy Q fielded questions from Hot 97's Peter Rosenberg and played his forthcoming album Blank Face LP in New York City. His last record, 2014's Oxymoron, helped magnify his stardom, but the West Coast rapper says that Blank Face reminds him of what he would have made at the beginning of his career if his budget and reputation had allowed it.

"When I was making [my first album] Setbacks, I wasn’t who I am now," he said, referring to his 2011 indie debut. "I had to work with what I’ve got." He also said, "This album, I got everything I wanted, worked with exactly who I wanted and did the best of my ability on this album with the street shit, getting back to my old roots." The album delivers on that promise, carrying more than an hour of mostly dark, gritty numbers with a few upbeat surprises sprinkled in.

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A new guest on “Groovy Tony”

The version of "Groovy Tony" that people have been jamming to since the song's April release gets swapped out for a new one with the same beat but offering a new verse from Jadakiss. The eerie banger produced by Tae Beast and Dem Jointz was the perfect fit for Jada’s raspy, calm-yet-tenacious rhymes. Q said he wanted to save the Jadakiss verse for the album, and it’s worth the wait.

More two-in-one songs

TDE helped popularize the method of combining several songs into one, like Kendrick Lamar’s "Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst" and ScHoolboy Q’s "Prescription/Oxymoron." Blank Face LP continues the trend with multiple instances of the two-in-one song format. “Because every rapper is doing it and I want to do it too,” Q joked.

Magic with Alchemist

After producing “Break The Bank,” one of the best songs from Q’s Interscope debut Oxymoron, The Alchemist returns to craft another gem for Blank Face LP. On "Kno Ya Wrong," Q waxes poetic on Alchemist's soulful, waltzing piano keys.

Rap greats show Q love

Raekwon and Kurupt lent strong guest appearances on Oxymoron, and Q recruited more vets to bring their experienced rhymes to Blank Face. E-40 appears on a bouncy Metro Boomin heater called "Dope Dealer" and Tha Dogg Pound appears on the colorful "Big Body." Q noted that Dogg Pound and Mobb Deep are his favorite rap groups. "If y’all noticed, I always get OGs on my albums," he said. “I usually don’t f--k with young n---as, cuz n---as is weak.”

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Changes of pace

While much of Blank Face is the dark gangsta rap Q’s fans love, there are a few curveballs. The BBQ-ready “WHateva U Want” had Q dancing on stage before admitting, "You can crip walk to that shit, you can dance to that shit, you can just have fun. I don’t even know what I said on the song. I was just having fun on that muf--ka.” The album’s penultimate song is "Overtime," a smooth, sexy cut that's reminiscent of "Studio," the hit from Oxymoron. The songs offer the change of pace as heard on "Studio" and "Hell of a Night" on Oxymoron but are sequenced in ways that don’t interfere with the album's overall mood. "You’ve always got that song that you have to give up for the label," Q said about "Overtime," which features Miguel and Justin Skye. "But I said the same shit about ‘Studio’ and that went number one so maybe it’s something I don’t know. Sometimes the label knows what they’re talking about."

A memorable appearance by Vince Staples

On an album with many notable cameo appearances, the best guest spot arguably belongs to the youngest of the bunch. After impressing the rap circuit with his brilliant Summertime ‘06 album last year, the 22-year-old Vince Staples adds a commanding verse to "Roll Out," a trunk rattler produced by Sounwave. ScHoolboy Q said Staples is one of his favorites from the West Coast, and here he proves why.

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An early start in street life

Q said that he was introduced to gang life as a young child. An album highlight called "John Muir" chronicles that stage of his journey. Named after the middle school he attended in Los Angeles, he explains that time period marked the beginning of his time in the streets. "The beginning of me f--king with my homies from the hood," he said. "The beginning of me stealing, robbing, getting beat up, jackin’ n---as, getting jacked, the whole nine." Backed by a cinematic backdrop, Q rhymes about toting a gun at 13 and selling dope at 14.

There is only one version of Blank Face LP

Unlike the first run of TDE’s albums under Interscope, Blank Face LP won’t include a standard version and a deluxe version with extra songs. What you hear is what you get: 17 songs with a total running time of an hour and 12 minutes. "I don’t have a deluxe album. I don’t have that standard album -- it’s all one album," he said. "I’m over that shit. I’m over singles. I’m here to make good music, I’m here for y’all to listen to it and I’m here for y’all to like it." 

ScHoolboy Q's Blank Face LP drops on July 8.