Sitting down with Elliott Wilson for a CRWN interview, ScHoolboy Q broke down the making of his Oxymoron album, his thoughts on the decline of gangster Rap, and why he feels like he still doesn’t have a hit record to his name.
Beginning with a mention of his album climbing to what seems will be the #1 spot, ScHoolboy Q talked about his relief in finally releasing his oft delayed major label debut. “I got the monkey off my back, [I] feel like that,” he said. “So, it’s cool, feel me. All them years, two years, now it’s out and the people got it, and it’s gonna be #1. That’s a blessing.”
ScHoolboy Q Talks Gangster Rap On "Oxymoron"
Speaking with Wilson about the his gang history inspiring Oxymoron and much of his music to this point, ScHoolboy Q explained taking his name from a local figure from his neighborhood. “I grew up on Figg,” Q said. “My name, ScHoolboy, it comes from me having good grades, but it also comes from a dude that’s from my neighborhood that’s named Schoolboy and he was a pimp. When I was younger, he had all the Kangol hats, he used to walk around in a robe and shit...jheri curl, rope. So I ran with his name and shit. So I had to get that ‘Groovline’ off, tell the tale of prostitution and pimping, how it goes. I knew Suga Free was gonna give me that real pimp game. I never been a pimp, like I said, I’m just telling my story.”
Moving onto the issue of gangster Rap in the industry in general, the Habits & Contradictions emcee addressed the misconception that “aggressive rappers” lack substance. “Most of my albums are all dark pretty much. But this one I wanted to keep it real raw. Because people, they hear aggressive rappers and they say [they have] no substance. I don’t get that. Like how [does] me rapping about somebody getting killed, or me running from somebody trying to kill me, is no substance. You clearly live behind a computer your whole life.
“Niggas is too nice. Once Game and 50 [Cent] and them stopped beefing or whatever, gangster Rap just fell off the map,” he added. “It was just done. And all the new nice niggas came up, it’s the new age, people aren’t really gangbanging like they used to. People are not really being on the corner and the blocks and selling drugs like they used to ‘cause you got the Internet now. Niggas is trying to be rappers, anybody could just upload your shit on Youtube now and fuck around and get famous. Niggas is playing a video game. Niggas is looking on the website to see what clothes they want. Niggas is trying to get fresh now. Niggas ain’t outside no more so they don’t relate to some of the shit you talking about, they don’t get it.”
When asked about his early initiation into gang-life, Q described the culture running deeply throughout childhood. “On some real shit, it starts before twelve, you’re born into it,” he said. “You’re coming up and you hear one of your homeboy’s brothers or your uncles or cousin, say ‘cuz’ and ‘Blood’ all the time. Then you saying it, then the next thing you know he’s fully into the gang, and all it takes is one of your homies or one of your family members to get in a gang. And then he gets into a fade and you with him, so you fighting with him, so now it’s like, you basically from the gang and the next thing you know, you embrace it.”
The rapper added that while he’s drawn on his past extensively for inspiration, he’s yet to find the same spark from his life now. “My current life is all just so boring I don’t think I could get nothing off.” he said. “My current life is just doing interviews, doing shows, and thinking of ways to tell people about my past. I’m not ready to give people the present Q yet. I’d rather wait ‘til I fully grow into that person ‘cause right now I’m still new, I just got on like 2011, that’s like three years you know, so I want to let it settle in a little more ‘cause I still got a lot shit to talk about from the past.”
ScHoolboy Q Says "Collard Greens" & "Man Of The Year" Aren't Hits
Talking about his collaboration with Pharrell, ScHoolboy Q explained wanting to direct “Los Awesome” directly at those living the gang-life. “P one of my favorite producers,” he said, “and that was crazy hearing that he wanted to fuck with me. We got in the studio, we fucked with like three records, but when I made this record I just wanted to talk to gang members. This one is one of those that I didn’t care if anybody got what I was saying or didn’t like it, I made this strictly for gang members only. Like literally for gang members, that’s why I put Jay Rock on it. We’re the gang members of the crew, and this is for the gang members. Ya’ll can enjoy if you want to but I didn’t made it for nobody like that. I got a part two to it too, me and Pharrell, he doing the hook on the next one.”
Admitting that he has several “big songs” under his belt, Q maintained that he’s yet to release a single that he would consider a hit. “Of course I want a hit first off. I’m not in there like, I gotta make this the hit,” he said. “I’m in there just working. I know a hit gon’ come to me one day. My album was a hit, that shit #1 so I ain’t tripping.”
Still, Q described taking direction from his label-head on the matter of crafting a single. “Top said we needed a single. At first I was gonna do the whole album just no single,” ScHoolboy Q said, “like maybe just one single. But he wanted another, so I did ‘Collard Greens’ and ‘Man of the Year’ the same night. I’m like, these sound more single material but it was still more like I compromised with doing a single but I didn’t compromise on what record I wanted to make. They couldn’t tell me, ‘Here do a song with this nigga, or you gotta do a song with that nigga.’ They just wanted me to have another single and I just did it my way. Unfortunately, that motherfucker was a dud. I’m just fucking around, it was a big song, don’t get me wrong, that’s the difference between hit records and big songs. ‘Man of the Year’ is a big song, ‘Hands on the Wheel’ was a big song, ‘There He Go’ was a big song, ‘Collard Greens’ was a big song, but them shits wasn’t hits.”