Monday, February 10th, 2014

Schoolboy Q – Man of the Year

Campaigning for that Time magazine cover…


Jonathan Bradley: Of rap’s young upstarts, from Atlanta astronauts to Chicago’s drill sergeants, the Black Hippy kids are the most traditional, with their emphasis on lyricism, group cohesion, and coast-to-coast domination. Schoolboy Q’s “Man of the Year,” with its award show conceit, is Jay-Z’s “Roc Boys” in negative: hot-headed where Hov’s was opulent, grimy where Hov’s was glitzy, déclassé (“titties, ass, hands in the air”) where Hov’s was gilded (“you don’t even gotta bring your purses out”). And Q strives where Jay slummed: he wants to be man of the year where President Carter demurred that he was merely the annum’s dope boy. Schoolboy Q isn’t the most thoughtful of his crew, nor the most verbally dexterous; his appeal lies more in his effective realisation of nouveau gangsta charisma, naming tracks after gang founders and inventing ad-libs modelled after gun-sounds. Which isn’t to suggest those accomplishments aren’t laudable; here is the California colossus capable of competing with early ’90s Death Row when it comes to inventing new methods for glorying amidst palm trees and ill-gotten wealth.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Within TDE’s collection of abnormally talented Los Angelenos, Schoolboy Q is the sneaky one. Kendrick’s the detail-obsessed egoist, Jay Rock the studied bloodhound, Ab-Soul the tragic space cadet, Isaiah Rashad the youngest buck of all, but Q is sneaky. His raps creep up on you with multiple listens, his choruses stick with you as time goes on, his voice’s thick variety keeps him interesting. “Man of the Year” is Q’s lush take on lifestyle music, fitting in with much of his output: background music that organically pushes out the foreground. Its richness makes simply being sound badass: I rolled around a supermarket on a trolley to this and felt like the man of the year. I browsed past a pair of £415 #lazyboyz slacks to this and felt like the man of the year. I hazed out and wrote this blurb, submerged myself in Q’s crackle and felt like — you get the idea.

Megan Harrington: As a collection of words, “Man of the Year” is your standard issue tried so hard and got so far and in the end, titties everywhere. But as a collection of sounds, it’s a bit stranger than the glossy surface suggests. Q will bust his words apart wherever the beat dictates, stringing together a post-surgical lyric like “jum-jumping around/tits, ass bump out her gown/gu-bu-bounce from the ground, hype for the sound” which pays no attention to syllables and finds internal rhymes in the jumble of letters. 

David Sheffieck: Schoolboy Q has a tendency to pick the best beats of the Black Hippy crew, so while a spectral Italo disco sample is a new sound for him, it’s also not really surprising to hear him pushing into new territory. “Man of the Year” is Q in party mode, and Chromatics provide a bracingly counterintuitive foundation for his unerring way with a hook and his driving, clipped flow. It’s easy to undervalue Q, particularly in comparison to Kendrick Lamar’s flashier style, but he’s repeatedly proven himself an incredibly versatile and skillful artist over the past few years. Fingers crossed that Oxymoron actually drops this time, and that it brings him some much-deserved credit.

Patrick St. Michel: I don’t think “Man Of The Year” was assembled the way it was because someone thought the NBA Live ’14 soundtrack needed some Chromatics on it. The hook alone tricks you into thinking this is pure jubilation, an exercise in ego flexing. But geez, that “Cherry” sample casts everything in a bittersweet hue, especially when the second verse comes around. Schoolboy Q seemingly calls back to his pre-fame days in Los Angeles in small bits, yet those lines linger over the party, even if it is just accidental.

Alfred Soto: The Chromatics sample and what it sounds like a chorus of kidnapped frogs interfere in the best way with this Black Hippy crew member’s crisp, raspy diction. It talks loud and says nothing, and but what a pleasure.

Brad Shoup: Listening to Q put a dunce cap on Macklemore in “White Walls” has been a sizzling beam through the cloud cover. That and “Timber” have made Austin pop radio bearable these last few weeks. Anyway, he’s in control here, having a blast, on so many tracks he has to interrupt himself. Nez & Rio tweak a tolerable, gauzy indie-pop track into a sophisticated haze. This time, it’s sorta trap, but nothing’s gonna get more amped than Q himself.

Mallory O’Donnell: GTFO: apparently rap’s Great Black Hope has a protégé as dull, overhyped and sexist as the man himself. Wow. Awesome. You say he’s released a braggadocio grind track with trap drums and a single suspended chord? Whoaaaa. CONSIDER MIND BLOWN.

Reader average: [8.33] (3 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

10 Responses to “Schoolboy Q – Man of the Year”

  1. why put up a review if you’re not willing to engage with the music at all

  2. pretty sure everyone here has?

  3. sorry, you’re right

    why put up a review if you’re not willing to engage with the music at all beyond being a sarcastic prick

  4. Because it’s one of many approaches that work. And you know that we try nearly every approach here.

  5. Jonathan, that Q/Hov breakdown is so great!

  6. Thanks Megan. :)

  7. Yeah, SJ usually hits on nearly every variation of music criticism in its posts. One of the reason I love it.

  8. “tried so hard and got so far and in the end, titties everywhere” is the greatest thing I have ever read

  9. ^Same

  10. That’s going on my epitaph – “Titties Everywhere 1988- (undetermined date)”