Amherst Wire

Schoolboy Q punches below his weight on “CrasH Talk”

The TDE veteran returns after three years with a comforting yet vapid mix of laid-back anthems and mean-mug tunes

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Schoolboy Q punches below his weight on “CrasH Talk”

(Mikel Galicia / Wikimedia Commons)

(Mikel Galicia / Wikimedia Commons)

(Mikel Galicia / Wikimedia Commons)

(Mikel Galicia / Wikimedia Commons)

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Few names resonate in the hip-hop realm quite like ScHoolboy Q’s does. Originated from Southern Los Angeles, Schoolboy Q dominated airwaves since 2011 with the release of his mixtape “Setbacks.” Q made a name for himself as one of hip-hop’s premiere party animals with a sound ranging from aggressive, gangsta rap tracks to relaxed yet wavy stoner anthems. Q found a niche where he creates sounds for the pregame, the party and the postgame all while finding ways to progress his sound as he did on “Oxymoron” and “Blank Face LP.”

After a three-year hiatus, Schoolboy Q returns with his third studio album “CrasH Talk.” Led by the singles “Numb Numb Juice,” “CHopstix” with Travis Scott and “CrasH,” Q did not exactly build the hype for his album in the best way. With “CrasH” being the best of the three, the singles feel formulaic, uninspired and unoriginal. However, Q manages to piece together several memorable moments on “CrasH Talk.” With all the uncertainty surrounding the release of this project, Q delivers a tracklist that binds him within his comfort zone.

Q opens “CrasH Talk” with much less of a bang than previous projects. “Gang Gang,” the album’s intro, is driven by a flat and simple key melody layered over an aggressive 808 and snare pattern. The beat alone is enough to make your “mean mug”  come out, but Q’s over-repetitive hook and unoriginal lyrics make this track feel more like filler than an intro. Q repeats “Whip clean, dope boy (ah)” nine times in the back half of the chorus to lead into a rather substanceless verse. The beat delivers on energy, but Q cannot seem to match it.

The subsequent track, “Tales,” is much improved than the intro. Q goes from an aggressive intro to a slow, laid-back and guitar-driven track that is much more reflective than its predecessor. “Tales” is perhaps one of the better songs on “CrasH” as Q reflects on his cyclical gangster lifestyle and its repercussions, recognizing the opportunities he let pass by. “I could’ve went D1 but like, I wasn’t with it / My SATs and grades was high enough but I wasn’t with it / I couldn’t bring my dawgs with me so I wasn’t with it,” he spits.

However, “Tales” highlights one of the album’s major flaws, especially from the front half. The sequencing, or track placement, feels rather unorganized. A track like “Tales” would be much better off in the latter half of the album with other somber, reflective tracks like “CrasH,” “Black Folk” and “Dangerous” with Kid Cudi. I understand that keeping the listener on his/her toes is a necessity, but “CrasH Talk” may catch the listener off guard on multiple occasions. Q moves from bangers to slow jams all at a pace that feels rather unorthodox.

Additionally, the first half of “CrasH Talk” gravely pales in comparison to the second half. The front half is filled with generic, formulaic bangers like “CHopstix,” “Numb Numb Juice,” “Drunk” featuring 6LACK and the overly-poppy “Lies” with Ty Dolla $ign and YG. Q delivers a star-studded cast on “CrasH Talk,” but rather than setting them up for the best, they often deliver boring and universal hooks and verses that feel too uninspired. The artist should never be outshined on their own album in the first place, but some features on “CrasH Talk” feel forced and uninspired.

However, “CrasH Talk” improves as the album moves into the second act. After “Lies,” Q greatly picks up the energy and the sequencing improves across the board. The flute-driven, high-octane “5200” breathes new life into the album as Q moves into the better tracks on “CrasH Talk.” The succeeding tracks possess a greater focus and range to a variety of topics.

On “Floating” with 21 Savage, Q and Sir 21 trade bars about their emotional states while intoxicated with substances. Layered over a cold, dark piano melody is incredibly bouncy 808s. The rhythm on “Floating” is innately created with a lack of hi-hats as the 808s and melody do most of the work. Q flows effortlessly on the hook and the beat compliments both him and 21 Savage excellently.

The album’s outro “Attention,” Q wraps up “CrasH Talk” perfectly. The track reflects on a variety of topics without ever feeling overwhelming or dense. He discusses his lavish lifestyle, material possessions and relationships with some of hip-hop’s most prominent icons. He raps, “Front row at the Grammys, I’m getting praises from Jay / F*** about this award, I’m happy he know my name / Favorite rapper Nas been told me that I’m the best / Had a couple sessions with Dre, knew I would win.” This track thrives off of Q’s ability to effectively communicate emotion and experience without him reverting to the same formula. “Attention” is a stand-out track for this reason, and I honestly wish we saw more of that from Q.

THE VERDICT: 5/10

For me, Schoolboy Q punches well below his weight on “CrasH Talk.” The front half of the album is undeniably bland and generic. Q delivers nothing new or of substance as “CrasH Talk” grows into feeling uninspired. The beats, lyrics and hooks are all things listeners have heard before, and Q unfortunately never brings anything new to the table. However, Q greatly redeems himself on the back half with some incredible bangers and reflective tracks about his life, shortcomings and achievements. I’m glad Q’s back, but after three years, I was hoping we’d get a little more out of him.

Email Trevor at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @TrevorWilsonOG

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Trevor Wilson, Assistant Entertainment Editor

"Since day one, since the first time I touched the pen, I wanted to be the best at what I do." - Kendrick Lamar

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Schoolboy Q punches below his weight on “CrasH Talk”