Schoolboy Q 

Habits & Contradictions

A few things about Habits & Contradictions that are, initially, turnoffs: First, Schoolboy Q is coarse — more so than many other contemporary gangsta rappers. His flow is abrasive, his content graphic, and his disposition entirely unapologetic. For examples, consult "Nightmare on Figg St."

Or take a line from the drug-dazed "Oxy Music." Q describes the scene: Blood on the wall/Death in the air/Birds on the ground/Pistols everywhere/Devil's in the eyes/Babies always cry/Papa never home/Fuck it, we all alone. It's a tame song by his standards, but the album's confessional and instructional nature — combined with the knowledge that he does, in fact, have a young daughter — is enough to make you shudder.

So what makes this one of the best rap albums in months? Well, there's another side to Q's coin: He's contemplative, consistently funny, and tremendously loyal. Unrepentant, explicit references to hard drugs and retributive violence are the fabric of Habits & Contradictions, but it's the glimpses at his inner character that make those escapades endurable, and even gripping.

Some album highlights: "There He Go," in which Q patents his personal flavor of swag; "Hands on the Wheel," the closest thing to a party track (aided by the charisma of ASAP Rocky and an infectious Kid Cudi cover); "Raymond 1969," an eerie Portishead adaption; "Grooveline Pt. 1," Q's hilarious attempt at a slow jam (with an unlikely cameo from Curren$y, who's a bit of a vocal analogue to Q); "Gangsta In Designer," in which Q enforces his devil-may-care outlook; and "Blessed," featuring Q's close friend and collaborator Kendrick Lamar, who caps the album with a relieving breath of fresh air. (Top Dawg)

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