This week, the headline speaks for itself. Since ScHoolboy Q season is damn near upon us, we posed the question of what we want from his upcoming album to our Managing Editor Donna-Claire Chesman and senior writer, Yoh.
Their predictions, hopes, and dreams for Q's first full-length album since 2016's GRAMMY-nominated Blank Face LP, lightly edited for content and clarity, follow below.
yoh [1:49 PM]
Hi, Donna. Happy Thursday to you first lady.
donnacwrites [1:49 PM]
Afternoon, Yohsipher. Ready for our chat?
yoh [1:50 PM]
Yes, ma'am. What topic has your attention today?
donnacwrites [1:53 PM]
With ScHoolboy Q's album being teased by way of new material, I want to talk about what we expect versus what we want from his upcoming record. We can start by looking at "Numb Numb Juice" and taking it from there. I love the single, it showcases what we love about Q as a rapper: his punchiness and ability to bend language and make menace out of thin air. What I love about Q, on the whole, is that he is tough but knows how to have fun. He's talking about shooting your brains out, but calls it "Numb Numb Juice." That's fucking terrifying and fucking hilarious.
On Blank Face LP, he had a line about punching someone in their jaw and getting their teeth stuck in your knuckles. Terrifying and hilarious. What's Q's best quality for you?
yoh [2:10 PM]
Hahaha. Q's ability to be comedic and intimidating is one of his most endearing qualities as a rapper. Being both dead serious and lighthearted is a gift few artists can successfully convey. What I've always loved about ScHoolboy is how distinctive his style is. I still haven't heard a song quite like "Collard Greens" or my favorite from his second mixtape Habits & Contradictions, "NigHtmare on Figg Street." I don't know if it's because he didn't initially want to be a rapper, but there's a way he approaches storytelling, lyricism, and even his ad-libs that feels so original. It's that originality I'm craving. Music that only Q could make.
It's been three years since Blank Face LP, an album that didn't quite receive the fanfare as his debut album, Oxymoron. What do you think might have held back Black Face that you hope Q avoids on his untitled, third studio album?
donnacwrites [2:14 PM]
The problem with Blank Face was that it was too long. Q became unwieldy and overwrought when he should have been as succinct in tone as he is on "Numb Numb Juice." There were songs that had no business being on the album and, for an artist not bred for radio play, radio-focused singles were a misstep. "Overtime" comes to mind. Yet, Q's best rapping to date lives on that album: "JoHn Muir." How can he be so high and so low? I want consistency in quality, that's what Oxymoron delivered, but Blank Face didn't.
"Numb Numb Juice" makes me think Q knows he tends to go long and he's ready to course correct.
yoh [2:33 PM]
I love the rapping on Blank Face more than any other Q album, but it is a lengthy odyssey. As a lyricist, there's a potent quality to how much Groovy Q can pack into tiny and large spaces. I would love on this new album a combination of short, punchy moments like "Numb Numb Juice" with lengthier, captivating songs like "Break the Bank" and "Prescription/Oxymoron" from Oxymoron.
He's so well-rounded; the Ken to Kendrick's Ryu in the sense they both are rap fundamentalist who can make any kind of song, but do so with their unique flair. There's no box for ScHoolboy, he's that good, but I hope he isn't put in the position where a concept album has to balance commercial sensibility. He's an artist's artist, and every label involved needs to allow him room to be just that.
Would you be excited if Q pulled a J. Cole? An album without features?
donnacwrites [2:36 PM]
I would love if Q went no features because I'm greedy, but he's such a charismatic guy and his charisma shines the brightest when he's with his TDE crew. I would love thoughtful features as well. We all know how I feel about "Collard Greens," one of my favorite songs, and the Kendrick feature on there is borne of a charisma that is so infectious from Q.
The issue I had with Blank Face was that some of the features felt forced. I want organic collaborations for Q. I don't want him burdened by politics and projections. I want him to be able to do his thing. It doesn't have to be a concept album. Not every record needs to be a poem. He has enough technical strengths to deliver a hard rap album a la 2 Chainz and just spit for 45 minutes. Q is the concept.
yoh [2:46 PM]
Yes! Ideally, I would love if he gave us a quintessential rap album. Follow in the footsteps of 2 Chainz and Pusha-T. It's almost funny how little "Numb Numb Juice" reveals. I agree with the features, TDE always comes through for each other, but I imagine there's so much Q has to say. My heart isn't ready for a potential Mac Miller tribute. If we get heartfelt ScHoolboy on this album I might have to shed a thug tear.
donnacwrites [2:50 PM]
If there is a Mac Miller tribute on the Q album, I will cry openly and unabashedly. We can definitely expect there to be some more personal material, though. DJ Fu did tell us this is going to be "ScHoolboy Q 2.0," and that he's getting more introspective. I would love to hear him broach fatherhood, personally. Any subjects you would enjoy?
yoh [2:58 PM]
He's alluded to it on various tracks, but I would love a transparent song about the transition from the block to Billboard. He's been nostalgic about the past and has been forthright about his success, but has he dealt with any survivors' guilt? His lifestyle has changed drastically, but how difficult was it to leave everything he once knew? It's a topic I'm always interested in. Maybe that's a little too personal for Q, but I would love to hear him tackle it with the clarity of retrospection.
donnacwrites [3:01 PM]
I would love that as well, here's a question: What don't you want to hear from Q?
yoh [3:06 PM]
Another "THat Part," lol. Seriously, though, we can do without anything that leans too hard toward blending in with the times. I want an album filled with fresh flows, fresh beats, fresh substance. It's very easy to come back after substantial time away and be focused on pleasing the audience with what you think they want. It's a trap Q hasn't fallen into before, but it's a trap that's present for any artist on their third album. Remember, Lupe Fiasco was three albums in when he released Lasers. Luckily, Q's relationship with his label appears to be far more amicable. What about you? What don't you want on this album?
donnacwrites [3:14 PM]
I don't want another series of songs "for the ladies" that fall flat and slow Q down. I want him as his bombastic, everlasting self. I will take no less.