Review: ScHoolboy Q “CrasH Talk” – “it excels but it doesn’t exceed previous heights”

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Review: ScHoolboy Q “CrasH Talk” – “it excels but it doesn’t exceed previous heights”

Years from now when we talk about the best of the 2010s, ScHoolboy Q will certainly be talked about. However, it won’t be because of this album.

ScHoolboy Q has popularised the whole notion of ‘gangsta rap’ again, since the advent of the decade. He has been making some seriously hard music and staked his claim atop the rap game due to sheer talent. It would be unfair to say “oh he’s on TDE that’s why he’s doing well” because, well quite frankly TDE is doing well because he’s there.

Their roster right now is arguably the best in the game, and Q has been a big reason for that. The staggered releases for each artist makes perfect sense; it helps build anticipation, gives everyone a chance to shine and also gives stops the artists overstating themselves. There are tweets dated from the star of 2017, saying they waiting for this new Q album. When the build-up began, so was every hip hop fan. Although, unfortunately, this album just falls short of the mark (for Q’s standards at least).

It’s not a bad album by any stretch, but for a rapper whose last two albums have been Grammy nominated and considered two of the best of the decade by many, this just doesn’t hit those heights. Where his last albums have a cohesiveness throughout, this one has no zenith. It sounds just like he’s made a bunch of songs and thrown them together, and without a narrative, something just seems off.

The album starts a bit slow, especially if you’ve heard the singles leading up to the release. ‘Chopstix’ shows Travis Scott’s insistence on auto-tuning everything, and it’s played out to a point you want to just skip past it. Being mind-numbingly dull. That may sound harsh but it’s by far the worst track on the album.

Q spoke of ‘Overtime’ on his last album being there because of industry politics and that he didn’t like. However, there’s a host of songs similar sounding on “CrasH Talk”. Tt isn’t till track 7 – of a 14 track album – that things start to pick up. Here we see Q go at it, ‘5200’ serves as sort of second intro, and draws the listener back in before he slows it back down with ‘Black Folk’. Again, something with the pacing of the album just doesn’t work well for it.

The track with 21 Savage and the following track with Kid Cudi serve as reminders of what ScHoolboy Q can do, and I have to hand it to him – his beat selection is crazy. Whilst he’s never been renowned for his hooks, he’s been able to get away with that with the lyrical content found elsewhere in his songs and it has always seemed to work well for him. But there’s just something not right when you have 3 hooks to 2 verses, the listener begins to become apathetic.

Despite all this though, he still oozes charisma. There is something in his delivery and the vernacular he uses that means you can’t help but pull a screw face and bop your head. Also, Lil Baby’s verse on ‘Water’ just shows he’s on a constant roll, as he’s not only everywhere but he makes you wanna listen to every word he has to say.

The crown jewel here, however, is actually the final track. It’s always important as it’s the final taste of what the artist has done. On ‘Attention’ he is at his best, that one verse which is introspective, deep yet still gangsta.

When he’s telling a story and bearing it all you get a much better sense of his talent, the emotion and poignancy here is real lines like “You know pain on my mama’s face when the opps can call me a loser” and “I
can finally understand why my uncles was never sober” make you realize what he’s come from and how it’s kind of a miracle he’s been able to make it in the rap game.

Where his last albums have had a darker tone, this one doesn’t follow suit. It is good to hear Q be able to get out of it though, especially with the passing of two close friends over the past year. His artistic integrity will never be questioned, because when you hear a ScHoolboy verse, you know it’s a ScHoolboy verse. His mannerisms, delivery, and style, in general, are all very unique.

For all its flaws, Crash Talk still holds up against a lot of other rappers projects. It’s just not what we’ve come to expect from groovy Q. It’s still worth a listen for tracks like ‘Attention’ and ‘Dangerous’, just don’t expect too much replay value elsewhere. Overall, it excels, but it’s not one for the history books.

Words by Rohan Parmar

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