While his labelmate and friend Kendrick Lamar was jumping on Imagine Dragons remixes and counting up his Grammy nominations, rapper Schoolboy Q remained the Top Dawg Entertainment label's strongest link to the left-field hip-hop.
His highly anticipated 2014 effort Oxymoron was even previewed by the brilliant single "Collard Greens," a track where luxury and soul food clashed over a shuffling house music beat courtesy of the aptly named production crew THC, but that's about as easy as it gets on this grim and gutsy full-length.
Think of Styles P, Young Buck, or maybe even Mobb Deep attacking abstract art the ski mask way and the brain-melting, coke game commentary called "The Purge" -- produced by Odd Future's Tyler, The Creator -- becomes a horrorshow highlight, with lyrics like "my glock is your f**k buddy" coming off just as dire as they need to be.
"Prescription/Oxymoron" addresses Q's pain pill addiction and recovery with lurching electro and vivid, disgraced lyrics that are in the throes of depression ("My daughter calls, I press 'Ignore'") while other highlights are more a sum of their parts, as producer Pharrell Williams returns to gangsta music with the hard beats he lays under "Los Awesome," then the organic and ominous "Hoover Street" bubbles like a lava lamp and the sub-genre of psychedelic hip-hop is born.
What They Want
Hell of a Night
Break the Bank
Man of the Year
His & Her Fiend
Grooveline, Pt. 2