Monday 18 March 2024

Review of 'Blue Lips' by Schoolboy Q

Despite pushing 40, Q still has incredible energy to give, and arguably the best ear for beats in the game.

10 years ago, I reviewed Oxymoron, and concluded that it was fun, but a little too dumb for my taste. Fast-forward to the present day, and Schoolboy Q’s music sounds sophisticated – if not borderline high brow - compared to the shit being churned out by upcoming rappers today. Just take a listen to the string of recent Carti singles and then listen to Blue Lips, and you’ll instantly see what I mean.

Sure, Q’s lyrics are still very dirty, and sometimes outrageous (the line ‘around nine, I was tryna have sex (I did)’ is absolutely insane). ‘Pop’ also has way too many aggressively yelled n-words for a white guy like me to feel comfortable listening to. But when it comes to Q’s flow, it is so tight and varied and energised that it makes him such a breath of fresh air in todays’ hip hop scene. He does also briefly dip into introspective topics on tracks like ‘Blueslides’ and the end of ‘First’, that shows he has the ability to get deep if he wanted to.

Of course, Q is able to bridge the gap between old and new hip hop listeners a lot better than artists like J Cole and Kendrick, because he’s able to flex his talents while still putting the focus on making his music fun. He’s always had a good ear for beats, and here the production is constantly thrilling. I particularly dig tracks like ‘oHio’ in which there are multiple sharp beat changes – cycling through g-funk, trap and jazzy pianos. Although very diverse, the production does seem to lean more towards a jazzier sound than on previous albums. In fact, I was convinced Tyler the Creator produced some of these tracks (he has produced for Q before), but he isn’t credited.

Personally, I’d rank this album on par with Blank Face right now, but time will tell if I return to it as much. I’m not sure it has the hooks to rival Blank Face. The flows and the beats certainly slap though.