In the modern hip-hop era of increased output and rapid-fire releases, Top Dawg Entertainment has mastered the art of quality versus quantity. ScHoolboy Q is no exception. The TDE tough guy has been remarkably steady with his releases since his 2011 debut Setbacks, maintaining a roughly two-year break in between projects. Not only does that give Q time to get inspired, put pen to paper and craft a well-balanced album, but it also forces fans to miss the self-proclaimed “Man of the Year” before his inevitable return.
Q is creeping up on three years since his last project, 2016’s Blank Face LP, and fans are rightfully getting antsy. He offered a taste of new music last year with his contributions to the blockbuster Black Panther soundtrack, but since then it’s been crickets from the Hoover Street star.
In fairness, Q stated that he needed time to recover from the death of his close friend Mac Miller before dropping any new music last September. Then last week, he tantalized fans on social media with one simple tweet: “2 more days…… finally.” Q delivered on his word and unleashed his punchy track “Numb Numb Juice,” which he performed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon while also dishing out a new record in “Chopstix.” With two new tracks at his disposal and Q saying that the a new project is coming “very, very, very, very soon,” the official rollout for album number five has begun.
Below are five things we want to hear from ScHoolboy Q’s upcoming fifth project.
A Tribute to Mac Miller
Q and the late Miller were close, not only because of their slew of collaborative tracks together but because they were genuine friends outside of music. Q was even quoted saying that Mac was an honorary member of TDE back when he became a free agent.
Following Miller’s death in September, Q said, “I just don’t feel right putting out an album.” Now that some time has elapsed, it is likely that Q will dedicate a song or two to Miller and honor his legacy, whether that be an upbeat banger that Mac would have probably turned up to or a more thoughtful cut that sheds light on their friendship. Either way, it’s possible that talking about Mac on wax will be therapeutic for Q.
A Black Hippy Posse Track
Q has multiple songs with every Black Hippy member, and there is no doubt that at least one Black Hippy member will be on ScHoolboy’s new album, since they genuinely perform at their best when spewing bars on the same track. The bar-for-bar rapping, intricate flows and competitiveness displayed on “Vice City” off Jay Rock’s 90059 album is a prime example that Black Hippy is greater than the sum of its parts.
This collaboration can manifest itself in a few ways, but ideally we get a track in which all four members are rapping intensely over a head-banging beat. Based on their track record (“Zip That Chop That,” “Say Wassup,” “Black Lip Bastard Remix”), all signs point towards a bar-heavy crew cut that will undoubtedly have a few crazy punchlines.
Diverse TDE Features
Of course, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul are top-tier featured guests that fans would love to hear, but since Q’s last album, TDE has acquired a lot of off-the-bench talent that could serve as great additions to his upcoming LP. SiR, Zacari and Lance Skiiwalker could all dish out strong hooks; Isaiah Rashad and REASON can easily rap as dynamically as anyone out right now; and SZA can deliver lyrics that will endure for years to come.
The label has so many role players currently, which could be massive benefit to Q’s new album. He would be crazy not to use some of this unique in-house talent to round out his record, whether on brazen bangers and introspective cuts. Imagine a lyrical back-and-forth with Isaiah Rashad that turns into a pop-rap anthem with SZA on the chorus – the streets and tweets would be on fire.
TDE has some astute in-house producers, mixers and masters (MixedByAli, Sounwave, Tae Beats, etc), and there is no denying their presence on ScHoolboy Q’s catalog. But for this upcoming album, Q should look to employ some outside sounds to elevate his lyrical stylings.
Blank Face LP used the instrumental marvels of Metro Boomin, Southside and Tyler, The Creator, which is a step in the right direction, but Q might be underestimating his ability to get busy on a multiplicity of different beats. The obvious new-comers that would cook up a classic with Q include Tay Keith, Turbo and Murda Beatz, but even more seasoned producers like T-Minus and Wheezy would give his album some new angles. Q has a penchant for trunk-rattling production, but if he grabs producers that could also mix in some sweet harmonies, it would certainly add another layer to his next gangster-rap soundtrack. Speaking of which…
Less Gangster Rap
If “Numb Numb Juice” is a preview for what’s to come on Q’s new album, then there will be no shortage of gritty gangster rap, which is Q’s calling card at this point. However, Q can also be an elaborate storyteller, and has no trouble delivering thoughtful street sermons. There are plenty of examples of Q slowing down the tempo, peeling back the blue bandana and rapping some realness.
Q has been through a lot over the past two-and-a-half years, and there are surely stories to tell that involve more than smoking, women and gun-toting. His daughter is almost nine years old, his career has exploded exponentially and the socio-political landscape is more complex than ever. There are plenty of hot topics in 2019 that Q could and should flip into highly digestible songs that add to his already acclaimed catalog.