By Kristopher Tondre
I’ve been an avid listener of ScHoolboy Q since I began following the Top Dawg conglomerate and got my hands on a copy of his Habits & Contradictions album back in 2012. With the release of his major debut album two years later, Oxymoron, I went and saw ScHoolboy Q perform live as part of the accompanying tour used to promote the project. Now, with the release of the Blank Face LP, ScHoolboy Q is gearing up to get back on the road after another two year hiatus in order to bring to life his latest body of work. Joining him this time though is Pro Era’s Joey Bada$$, a selection that took me by surprise when I saw the announcement. It should make for an interesting combination of styles as they get ready to embark on the 40 stop stateside tour before they head overseas to take the experience worldwide.
When I went and saw ScHoolboy Q perform back in 2014, I left a little underwhelmed at the end of the night. Q’s energy levels seemed almost stagnant by the time he hit the stage, but considering the weather and the fact that Q was hospitalized for having a cold a few weeks later, it’s a little more understandable. The lineup that night included
Audio Push, Vince Staples circa-Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2 and a freshly signed Isaiah Rashad to TDE which saw him make his debut with the Cilvia Demo EP. Looking back now as Vince Staples has become one of the most polarizing rap acts out right now, and the skill displayed by Isaiah Rashad after dropping his debut project it was a great experience seeing all these incredible performers in the early stages of their careers. Vince Staples’ raw gangster rap fit perfectly well into the same vein as the music made by Q, and the southern rooted funk of Q’s label-mate Isaiah Rashad offered a nice contrast to the gangster rhythm, but complimented the more subdued records in his discography. Now with Joey Bada$$ billed as the lead opener on this tour, it should make for an interesting cocktail of musical compositions as they take the stage all across the country as well as in other continents.
Where ScHoolboy Q has only continued his dominance musically in the downtime between Oxymoron and his recently released Blank Face LP, Joey Bada$$ seemed to take his own hiatus since releasing his debut studio album, B4.DA.$$, just last year in 2015. The most headlines Joey made since releasing his album was the feud that erupted between him and fellow New York based rapper Troy Ave. The diss tracks and freestyles released during the dispute was the most music Bada$$ had dropped in recent memory, aside from a handful of features on other artists’ projects. Now that the beef has settled down, and he’s done touring with the likes of Mick Jenkins, Kirk Knight, Denzel Curry and a few others, Bada$$ has now released a new song in the form “Devastated” and may be able to use this tour as a springboard into furthering his craft. After discussing Q’s new album with a few friends it makes a little sense to have Bada$$ accompany Q on this tour. If Oxymoron was a more polished gangster rap album with thick bass and a silky sound like Snoop Dogg during the time he worked with Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes, then the Blank Face LP is more of a gritty gangster rap album that borrows from the classic 90’s sound of boom-bap, a sound Bada$$ has practically carved a niche out of with the mixtapes he released at the beginning of his career. The presentation of the Pro Era leader should help shine a brighter light on the more rugged sounds crafted on Q’s second proper studio album.
ScHoolboy Q now, is not the same Q of the Oxymoron days. In the time since the release of that album, Q has sobered up, and took that two year absence to be more present in his daughter’s life, something he admits he missed out on a lot when promoting his music. So the Q that seemed lethargic that I saw going through the motions back in 2014, that’s not the Q I expect to witness hit the stage this time around. And although I wish Vince Staples was part of this adventure, simply to see a live rendition of their song “Ride Out”, the inclusion of Joey Bada$$ should make this show an entirely different experience than the one I saw two years.