The spotlight will be on ScHoolboy Q on Friday (April 26) when he releases his long-awaited fifth studio album, CrasH Talk. A lot has happened since Q’s 2016 effort, Blank Face LP, and his fans are salivating not only for his return, but for the stories will come from his extended time off.
Since his debut mixtape, ScHoolboy Turned Hustla, dropped in 2008, Q has been known for his vivid storytelling and word-warping rhymes. With his latest project, Q can potentially tap into several life events that unfurled over the course of his hiatus, like being a father full-time or the emotional effects of losing his close friend Mac Miller last year. With these experiences at his disposal, CrasH Talk has the potential to be another critically acclaimed project from the TDE stalwart.
As we await the release of CrasH Talk, Billboard ran through ScHoolboy Q’s 10 most essential songs to date.
“Figg Get The Money”
The opener for Q’s 2011 debut album Setbacks finds the rapper reflecting on the inner workings of Figueroa Street, the L.A. strip he calls home. Rapid-fire verses about the liquor stores and laundromats accompanied by the old drunks and sex workers roaming Figueroa are draped over a smooth jazz-inspired production by LordQuest. According to Q, when it comes to legal and illegal hustling, no one tops the residents of Figueroa Street.
“Hands On The Wheel” Featuring A$AP Rocky
Whenever ScHoolboy Q and A$AP Rocky meet on a song, the results are worthwhile. For their second career collaboration, the two rappers take on a sample of singer Lissie’s cover of Kid Cudi’s “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Q and Rocky explain how they’re more comfortable within a state of mind where social rules don’t apply: They prefer to stick their middle finger up to conventional beliefs of achieving success, and take risks rather than holding on tight to the steering wheel.
Here, the TDE star speaks on his experiences with prescription drugs from two different perspectives. On the haunting “Prescription,” Q details the effects of being high, along with the pain he feels from not getting his fix. The love affair that Q has with pills reaches the point where he ignores calls from his mother and daughter, with the latter crying out to her unresponsive father at the end of part one.
On “Oxymoron,” Q flips the script: he is now selling the drugs that he abused on the previous song. The song takes on a darker vibe as he makes it clear that he’s experienced in this line of work. The track ends with Q feeling like the world is delusional when it comes to drugs so he’ll keep on trapping out of his Nissan. The overall message becomes clear: whether you take them or sell them, drugs offer nothing but a dark path.
“Collard Greens” Featuring Kendrick Lamar
For the lead single off Oxymoron, ScHoolboy Q enlists the help of his TDE brother Kendrick Lamar for this psychedelic track. The THC and Gwen Bunn-produced beat has Q describing his love for weed while flaunting his skills in the bedroom. Meanwhile, K. Dot opens his verse in Spanish before detailing his own romantic skills.
“What They Want” Featuring 2 Chainz
The menacing production of Mike WiLL Made-It on this ScHoolboy Q and 2 Chainz collab served as the perfect backdrop for the rappers’ boastful rhymes about trapping, targeting their enemies and flexing their riches. A ScHoolboy Q-2 Chainz team may not make sense on paper, but in practice the track surpassed expectations thanks to the duo’s fiery exchange of ironclad bars.
“Numb Numb Juice”
After a three-year break, ScHoolboy Q made an explosive return with this aggressive lead single off CrasH Talk. With his versatile flow, Q wastes no time telling his listeners how he handles the competition: he’s ready to hop out of his car, guns blazing, all the while taking his enemy’s woman. If you’re snitching, gossiping, scared, or lying, Q lets you know what type of person you are.
ScHoolboy Q brought listeners back to his time as a teenager at John Muir Middle School for this introspective track off Blank Face LP. From the outset, Q explains how he got into the gangbanging lifestyle by reviewing key moments in his life, like carrying a gun at age 13 to selling Oxycontin a year later. On Twitter, ScHoolboy Q revealed he freestyled the entire song.
“Studio” Featuring BJ The Chicago Kid
On this affectionate track, Q yearns for his woman’s love while he’s at work in the studio. BJ The Chicago Kid elevates the song with an agreeable hook over the Swiff D-helmed track. It’s not the type of song that Q would normally make, but it became a hit for the Oxymoron rapper, as “Studio” peaked at at No. 38 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“THat Part” Featuring Kanye West
The summer of 2016 became one of Q’s biggest when he aligned himself with Kanye West for the booming record “THat Part.” On the track, Q and Ye boast about their cars, women and respective statuses as living legends. “THat Part” placed Q in elite company, as he earned himself a Grammy nomination for best rap performance in 2017.
“Man Of The Year”
For this celebratory cut, ScHoolboy Q revels in his newfound fame: bottles are being popped and the girls are surrounding Q at every turn. Due to its placement on Oxymoron, the song served as a happy ending for the aggressive, dark tone of the album. Following the song’s release, Q’s popularity skyrocketed, and 2014 effectively served as his breakthrough year commercially.