Featuring a guest artist lineup that includes the likes of Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, Tyler, the Creator, Jay Rock, Kurupt and Raekwon, Oxymoron was slated to be one of the more critically acclaimed hip-hop albums this year.
Though Oxymoron does feature several great tracks, it fails to deliver a fully-fleshed out album that can be the kind of critically acclaimed release that everyone was expecting. This is not to say, however, that Oxymoron isn’t a solid, well-produced album.
On the contrary, Oxymoron, will most likely deliver several hits that will circulate among hip-hop fans and artists alike.
Tracks such as opening cut “Gangsta,” “Hoover Street” and the single “Collard Greens,” are standouts not just because of the production, but because of ScHoolboy Q’s delivery, which varies on the tracks featured on the album.
“Gangsta” is an excellent track to begin Oxymoron with, and the loud, noise-driven start promises a listening experience that always manages to keep a sense of fun, even when bogged down in mediocre production or predictable beats.
“Collard Greens,” one of four singles released off the album, features minimalist production with spaced-out beats and a simple, driving backing line. Featuring Kendrick Lamar, it is one of the strongest tracks on the album, with a sing-songy chorus that is sure to gain heavy rotation on hip-hop radio and on personal playlists. Not only is “Collard Greens” immediately catchy, but it also features tight production and flow on ScHoolboy Q’s part.
The variety in production, which testifies to the various work done on the album by the likes of Pharrell, The Alchemist, Mike WiLL Made It and DJ Dahi, is what keeps listeners interested even when the direction of the album feels muddled.
On tracks such as the Soundwave-produced “Hoover Street,” the production shows great potential but never quite manages to make it a really great track. The bass line at the beginning is a throwback to more classic, jazz-based rap groups such as The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest, but ScHoolboy Q’s flow is all new — a straight delivery that contrasts well with the backing jazz production.
As the track progresses, however, it seems disorganized and not quite sure of the direction it wishes to go in. It alternates between the muddled production found on tracks such as “What They Want” and the excellent jazz-based production that started off the track.
“What They Want” is noteworthy for featuring everyone’s new favorite rapper, 2 Chainz. What had the potential to be a really great hit gets bogged down by 2 Chainz’s heavy-handed rapping and the sluggish production. Though the track is guaranteed to be on everyone’s radar because of 2 Chainz’s wide appeal, it emerges as one of the weaker tracks on the album through its muddied sound, which detracts to the song’s atmosphere.
Tracks such as “Los Awesome” and “Studio” fall into the same trap as well. “Los Awesome,” a weaker track with more generic production, is easier to take in when listened to in the context of the album, and “Studio” comes off as a smooth, slick track that’s pleasant but generic.
Oxymoron doesn’t really have any bad tracks. Rather, it has several great tracks built on a foundation of more generic and mediocre but appealing — cuts. It isn’t a bad album, but it certainly isn’t the kind of critically acclaimed album that the hype made it out to be.
Though the wait was worth it for some of the tracks on the album, there remains much more for ScHoolboy Q to do if he wants to gain the kind of solid critical acclaim and following of other hip-hop artists.
One of the best tracks on the album is also one of the most-talked about one: “The Purge,” which features Tyler, The Creator and Kurupt, is a great example of the kind of tracks ScHoolboy Q can make on his next release.
Both Tyler, The Creator and Kurupt represent two wholely different generations in hip-hop, but are grounded in the same dark, narrative storytelling that dominates their releases. Bringing both of these artists together not only brings out the best in ScHoolboy Q’s lyrical delivery, but also creates a track that listeners can repeat over and over again and still find something to sink their teeth into.
All three artists shine on the track, and since one of the main draws of Oxymoron is its guest artist lineup, ScHoolboy Q could use great pairings such as the one on “The Purge” to really build solid releases.
Most of the time, ScHoolboy Q’s flow on Oxymoron is tight, and so is the production. But both elements flounder at times, and that’s what prevents Oxymoron from reaching greatness.
A solid release, but by no means an instant classic, Oxymoron could owe its flaws to the fact that it is ScHoolboy Q’s first release under a major label. Oxymoron testifies, however, to what ScHoolboy Q can do, even under the constraints of Interscope records.
Oxymoron gave the hip-hop world a couple of good hits, but we’re still waiting for ScHoolboy Q to break through the hype and drop an album that will have staying power beyond the year it is released.