When ScHoolboy Q’s anticipated third full-length was in its production stages last year, Mac Miller quite boldly announced that it was better than good kid, m.A.A.d city. He might have been biased, though, as the album was mostly recorded in Miller’s Studio City pool house. Intra-Black Hippy comparisons are inevitable in a case like this, though, so we can humour them a little. But the fact is that if good kid is an ornate chandelier, Oxymoron is an LED billboard, so it’s more fitting to compare Q with Q and Q alone.

Oxymoron it is notably rawer and more intrusive than 2012’s Habits and Contradictions. Q’s second LP saw him sitting alone in a dark room, bucket hat twisted in his hands at some moments, messily lobbed across the room at imaginary foes at others. But on this third album, ScHoolboy’s hat is clamped firmly down on his head. Aggressive, lilting intonation rounds out the (rather unimaginatively) titled opener, “Gangsta,” and that’s what we hear again on the chorus of trap cinematic, “What They Want,” smoothly complementing 2 Chainz’s bullet-shot flow.

But what Oxymoron most notably shares in common with its predecessor is that, almost embarrassingly, the best cuts on the album are ones that feature Kendrick Lamar. Just as his punched-and-cut conviction was arguably the body of 2012’s “Blessed,” Lamar is the real star on single “Collard Greens” — on one verse, he simultaneously coos and spits out a valentine to marijuana in three different languages, all while maintaining that elusive balance of control and insouciance. Where Q shines all on his own is on the Boi-1da produced “Yay Yay,” rather unfortunately relegated to bonus-track status. He kills it again on “Man of the Year,” painting a strip club macabre-black. Take in Oxymoron like seafood — pick out the meat and discard the shell.

By Andréa Rojas

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