In an era of Ringtone Rap, Hip Pop and where the line between R&B and Rap is finer than ever, MC’s in the classic sense of the word are few and far between. The MC’s of Top Dawg Entertainment are of the few up and comers that are keeping the genre close to its roots. After the release of Jay Rock‘s debut album, Follow Me Home, Kendrick Lamar‘s highly acclaimed Section.80, and now Schoolboy Q‘s Habits & Contradictions, these Black Hippies are proving to be a force to be reckoned with. So, TDE starts the new year off with a bang with Q’s second independent album.
With just under half of the album being produced by members of Digi+Phonics, the album has a very laid back feel, perfect for someone in a group that calls themselves Black Hippy. Even Lex Luger puts his usual drum kit aside in favor of a smooth, relaxed beat on “Grooveline Pt. 1.” Fans of the production on Section.80 should enjoy the beats on H&C. The transitions from one track to the next are natural and Q switches it up in just the right times to keep it from getting repetitive, such as the hard, foreboding “Nightmare on Figg Street.” Production credits include THC, The Alchemist and Wale’s pals Best Kept Secret. Standout Tracks: Nightmare on Figg Street, Druggies With Hoes Again, Oxy Music, Sacrilegious.
While not the most lyrical member of Black Hippy, Q ‘s lyricism should not be slept on. The only real downside to his rapping is his heavy recycling of certain phrases or lines (he’ll be damned if you forget #BETiGOTSUMWEED). On the other hand, the strength of his style is in his delivery, Q rarely uses a flow that doesn’t fit the beat he’s on. Standout tracks: Blessed, 2 Raw, Gangsta in Designer (No Concept), NiggaHs.Already.Know.Davers.Flow.
Once again, the TDE crew proves their ability to create a well put together album. While many people feel there’s no concept that hasn’t been visited on a song, the tracks on H&C feel fresh and original. Q also demonstrated his ability to pick good features, as well as not overloading his album with guest performances. With appearances from all his Black Hippy homies, Curren$y, Dom Kennedy and the rising star A$AP Rocky, each artist compliments Q wonderfully. Kendrick continues to steal the show with his verse on the best track of the album (imo), Blessed, and Ab-Soul’s spot on “Druggies With Hoes Again,” makes me wonder why the two don’t do a collaborative project. My other favorite song, Hands on the Wheel (which samples Lissie’s exceptional live cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness”), is a party anthem assisted by A$AP Rocky that I must have hit the repeat button on over 100 times. Standout tracks: Blessed, Hands On the Wheel, Grooveline Pt. 1 ft. Curren$y and Dom Kennedy, My Hatin Joint.
Like Section.80 and Follow Me Home, Habits & Contradictions has made me an even bigger fan of the Top Dawg that made it. The production is near flawless; the lyrics anything but lacking and the songs are a breath of fresh air compared to the constant stream of “gangsta” and luxury rap that is flooding the genre. Schoolboy Q’s style is truly unique and I, for one, cant wait to see what he has in store for us Hip Hop heads in the future. While he is in a group with them, try to avoid comparisons to Kendrick and Jay Rock, as you may end up missing some truly talented rapping.