I’m a self confessed TDE fan, I’ve been rocking with them since the days of Watts Finest, Training Day, Long Term, and Setbacks. I’m all over anything new that comes from that camp, so I was beyond excited when ScHoolboy Q announced that he was finally ready to drop the follow up to his critically acclaimed major label debut Oxymoron. Does he live up to hype or does he fall victim to the sophomore slump?
After listening through the album a number of times I’d have to say that he manages to avoid that sophomore slump but doesn’t quite live up to the immense hype. Whereas his label counterpart is known for his incredible storytelling ability and for waxing deep philosophical verses about issues this generation faces, ScHoolboy Q has always played the role of the erratic, unrepentant gangbanger of the group, and done so to perfection. Oxymoron was all about how he was trying to raise a daughter while still living life as a gangbanger and addict. Blank Face doesn’t stray too far from this formula but every now in then you’ll find some more thoughtful reflection about the problems facing today’s generation without going as far as trying to give solutions. Perhaps an effect of his label mate rubbing off on him or just growing older.
“Little girls killin’ mothers They treat their kid like a brotha Fathers stuck with them lifers Kept it real with his niggas But left his kid for the suckas, shit no wonder we bang Damn shame, mane, some things will never change”
Blank Face is a dense 17 track offering that is every bit as menacing as his past work. All the way from his production, which is phenomenal, to his lyrics, Blank Faceis a dark and heavy listen, with a few upbeat songs thrown in to try to break up the rhythm. He gets a lot of the usual suspects to handle the majority of the album’s production (Tae Beast, Alchemist, Sounwave, and a few bigger names), and for the most part they all bring their A-game. “Lord Have Mercy” by Swizz Beatz is one track I wish was about 2-3 minutes longer as that beat is filthy, and if “Ride Out” doesn’t make you want to backhand a puppy when the beat drops then you’re just dead inside.
Other standouts for me are “JoHn Muir”, “Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane”, “Neva CHange”, and “Tookie Knows II”. When I first heard “Groovy Tony” when it was released as a single I thought that it was missing something, and that something was apparently an absolutely fire verse from Jadakiss! Apart from Jada there were few guest appearances, and even fewer guest verses. An all over the place verse from ‘Ye and appearances from E-40, Vince Staples, Tha Dogg Pound, and a couple of his homeboys round out the total of Blank Face’sguest verses, along with a blistering hook by Sza on “Neva CHange”.
Q has never been the strongest of lyricists out there and that’s more evident than ever this time around as there were numerous occasions where I’ve listened through an entire song without having one line in particular stick out to me. Where he’s always lacked in the lyrical department he’s always been able to carry songs through sheer personality and originality. But even that starts to wear thin by the end of a very long listen, as tracks start to drag towards the end (“Str8 Ballin” to “Overtime”) before finally ending on a high note in “Tookie Knows II”.
“Snake eyes keepin’ my back achin’ Dirty habits of rappin’ and bein’ savage Still hangin’ with niggas that can’t do nothin’ but cause damage Guess I’m bein’ a real nigga like I’m ‘posed to be But bein’ real never once bought the groceries”
Have you listened to the Blank Face LP yet? What’d you think about it? What were your favorite tracks? Let us know in the comments section below and you can leave your rating of the album below.
Blank Face LP never quite reaches those lofty expectations surrounding it and it starts to drag a little towards the end but it's a more than worthy addition to anyone's discography. It's dark and menacing, with some killer production and that signature Q personality. You have to think this is what he was aiming for when he first made Habits and Contradictions.