Schoolboy Q – Blank Face LP Album Review

Runnin’ from God’s creation/SHakin’ tHese broken Hands and meetin’ with blank faces – ScHoolboy Q

Following up with the release of his last album Oxymoron, ScHoolboy now gives us his 4th album Blank Face. Let’s talk about it.

Foundation
Shortly after signing to Interscope Records and releasing Oxymoron in the beginning of March 2012, Q went straight to work on the next album to be released under the Interscope label. After a four year follow-up, TDE founder Anthony Tiffith (aka Top Dawg) went to the public on February 24th, 2016 to say Q would be releasing the next installment to Oxymoron. Q’s daughter, Joyce (Joy) Hanley, announced via Instagram that the album would be released on July 8th, 2016. Then on June 14, 2016, Q stated the album would be called Blank Face. Q had stated that the concept of the album was inspired by the likes of Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killa.

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Schoolboy Q’s daughter, Joy, announcing the date of the album

NEW ALBUM!!!!! 7/8/16

A post shared by ScHoolboy Q (@groovyq) on

Fun Fact: This is the first album in which ScHoolboy Q has multiple colors that are not black and white (excluding the red within the TDE logo) on an album

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Promotion
On the same day Q had confirmed the album was called Blank Face, he released an album cover of what appeared to be of the Crying Jordan meme with a blank face to indicate this was the official album cover. Then on June 16th, a cover for the supposed Deluxe Edition of the album (which is now scrapped) had a cover of Donald Trump with a blank face. But afterwards in an interview with TMZ, it was confirmed that Q was trolling and the current Blank Face album cover is the REAL Blank Face album cover.

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ScHoolboy Q had additionally released a three part mini film series to promote the album along with releasing the tracks”By Any Means,” “Tookie Knows Pt.2,” & “Black THoughts” on his VEVO YouTube page where it tells a fictionalized story starring himself, Joy and a notable cast throughout the film series. Additionally, an album listening party with Peter Rosenberg from Hot 97 in New York City along with a live performance of “THat Part” & “Groovy Tony” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert helped push the promotion for the album further.

Fun Fact: ScHoolboy gave an opportunity for fans to see the three part mini film series as a whole in Los Angeles at the Downtown Independent Theater on July 8th, 2016 for a whole 24 hours (for free) as long as fans were able to provide a receipt of purchasing Blank Face

Singles & Production/Features

The first single that was released for the album was “Groovy Tony,” which was released on April 5th, 2016. Previously, this track attracted much attention due to Top Dawg releasing a snippet of the video of the track first on a flight which hinted on whether this track would be released soon. Later on, the track was released as a digital release on all platforms shortly after. The track was produced by Tae Beast and Dem Jointz along with video production directed by Jack Begert and the Little Homies. Jadakiss returns on the remix with a powerful feature on the song as well on the album.

The second single released was “THat Part” featuring Kanye West on May 13th, 2016. The track was produced by West as well along with Cardo, Yung Exclusive & Cubeatz. The cast of ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Kendrick Lamar returned with a powerful Black Hippy remix of “THat Part” on July 8th, 2016 as well with ScHoolboy Q re-doing his entire verse in the remix to fit the tragic times that had occurred in July regarding the incidents with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Fun Fact: Black Hippy (the group composed solely of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Jay Rock & ScHoolboy Q) was originally formed to support Q as he felt as though he was lazy on his verses and could not come up to par. To bolster Q’s ability in rapping, TDE decided to form Black Hippy in hopeful attempts to bring out the best in Q. Although they have released one mixtape and a handful of songs, an official project has not yet been announced.

The production credits are as follows:

  • Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith
  • The Alchemist
  • Cardo
  • Cubeatz
  • Dem Jointz
  • J.LBS
  • Kanye West
  • Larrance Dopson
  • Metro Boomin
  • Nez & Rio
  • Sounwave
  • Southside
  • Swizz Beatz
  • Tae Beast of TDE’s Digi+Phonics
  • Tony Russell
  • Tyler, The Creator
  • Willie
  • Yex

The artists featured on the album are as follows:

  • Kanye West
  • Jadakiss
  • Lance Skiiiwalker
  • Vince Staples
  • Candace Pillay
  • E-40
  • Tha Dogg Pound
  • SZA
  • Anderson .Paak
  • Miguel
  • Justine Skye
  • Traffic
  • TF
  • *Kendrick Lamar

(*Kendrick was noted to provide additional vocals but no real verses to any songs)

Fun Fact: ScHoolboy Q has stated that whenever Kendrick Lamar uses his alternative deep vocal that he used similar to what he did in various parts of Section 80, Kendrick calls it his “Lord of the Rings” voice.

Feature Spotlight: Anderson .Paak
A .Paak

I gotta give it to this man .Paak straight off the jump. What this man has done from August 7th, 2015 up to now has been amazing. He has been featured on Dr. Dre’s latest album, Compton, on a total of **SIX** tracks, was then signed to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label (Eminem, Kendrick, Dre, .Paak & Jon Connor collab anyone?), collaborated with one of my new favorite new producers, Knxwledge, formed a very successful duo with him titled NxWorries (which if you haven’t checked out Link Up & Suede you ought to), released a very successful album titled, Malibu, and has performed on a variety of different platforms. I can’t forget the fact that he had also been accepted into the most critically judged XXL Freshman class as well.

But as of now, it’s been nearly a year and .Paak has accomplished so much. Hats off to this young man and to his future endeavors.

Honorary Mention:
-Jadakiss (His last 8 bars in Groovy Tony)
-Lance Skiiiwalker (the newest member of the TDE family)
-Traffic & TF (Seeing as how well they peformed in Tookie Knows pt. II and how they **SOUND** with their respective verses, I can ONLY hope these two come back and continue rapping)

Final Verdict

Whenever I tell someone about a ScHoolboy Q album, I tell them the same thing I tell them when I listened to Q’s last album:

“Do NOT go in listening to this album thinking you will get the same lyrical satisfaction as listening to any other TDE member such as K. Dot, Soul or Zaywop.”

I say this because Q is totally different amongst his other TDE members. Rapping on topics of gang related activities, crips, drug dealing, gangbanging & his neighborhood in South Central LA, you aren’t going to get anything like the mentioned three artists I had listed. Q is a Gangster rapper. Point blank, period. Of course, Q is also going to tell it like it is as well. You don’t think that a 52 Hoover Crip member who had the opportunity to play with his grandmother’s firearm and shot an AK-47 at age 11 from a big homie name Rat Tone isn’t going to speak on these things?

I can honestly say that Q has improved off of his last three albums as I believe he had more freedom to speak more on topics regarding his real life. However, one would likely say that they have already heard the life and times of Q already on previous projects such as Oxymoron and Habits & Contradictions, which would of course have one say that Q is one-dimensional as the content he displays. Additionally, people state that because Q has made it and has struck success, what is the point of making these “struggle raps” when he is currently a highly successful rap artist as a whole. I could defend Q and say it isn’t about getting through it from a perspective point-of-view: it’s how you live to tell it, whom it reaches and/or how individuals like himself can totally relate to it.

Though I will say, this is a side of Q we have not exactly (more considerably the newly adopted Blank Face persona) heard before in tracks such as Groovy Tony & Ride Out (I mean I’ll admit, I lost my mind when Q was spazzin on the hook of Groovy Tony ALONE).

The open-ended question has now come up as of recent as well: WHO is the best member in TDE as of now? Q? K. Dot still? In review, ScHoolboy Q has stood out to be a very influential artist in the game for quite some time. The real question is how far can the same content in terms of his life be used as rap material without it appearing repetitively mentioned already. In the end, I recommend buying Blank Face on iTunes and wherever retail stores may have it sold.

E. Manning Score: 4.6/5 

Check out album below via Spotify and listen to the Black Hippy Remix of “THat Part” featuring ScHoolboy Q’s new verse, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul and Kendrick Lamar only on iTunes & Apple Music:

 

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