ScHoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions

written by: February 10, 2012
ScHoolboy Q - Habits & Contradictions album cover Release Date: Jan.14, 2012


They grow up so fast in East L.A., it seems. Although only slightly older than cohort Kendrick Lamar, Black Hippy crew member Quincy Hanley is still much wiser than his 25 years might suggest. Maybe because he’s run the gamut of life experiences already, with football star, straight-A student, Crip member and one-strike felon all on his résumé. Seemingly a little more streetwise than Lamar, ScHoolboy Q expresses an impressively educated and open worldview hidden under the guise of his former self: an Oxycontin-slanging street hustler. This is because of him proclaiming Habits & Contradictions as the prequel to his debut release, Setbacks, which was full of him making excuses about being a less-than-stellar rapper in his own eyes. Habits is what led to those excuses, and he paints a beautiful picture of the contradiction between gang life and intelligence: a struggle he faced before finding a home with a pen and a pad.

What aids in the delivery of his wisdom is not only his poignantly poetic writing, regaling drug-dealing and skirt-chasing, but also his versatility behind the microphone. In an interview with Complex Magazine, Q said the chameleonlike flow came from his appreciation for Jay-Z’s rhyming technique.

“I got [my rhyme style] from Jay-Z though. If you really listen to Jay-Z, he has a new sound every time he raps. It’s never the same. He might use a little swag, but it’s always like a different flow. So that’s all I try to do.” This is evident throughout Habits, as he adeptly navigates between laid-back hustler and hypocritical sinner asking for forgiveness. He’s never the same person on consecutive tracks, but he is always recognizable.

“Sacrilegious” starts the album off by giving the listener the feeling Q had growing up the way he did, his succumbing to a life of gang-banging, understanding the hypocrisy of it, begging for God to save him, but all the while believing that to be impossible. From there, he sets aside his worries and tries to enjoy the life he chose on tracks such as the swagged-out “There He Go,” “Gangsta in Designer (No Concept)” and “Druggy’s wit Hoes Again.” He complains, and brags, about encounters with women on “Sexting,” “Sex Drive” and “My Hatin’ Joint” and throws in a little bit of everything on “NiggaHs.Already.Know.Davers.Flow.”

Where he really shines is when he sheds the mask he hides behind and does what Lamar does so well: open up. Lamar joins him on “Blessed,” where they both admit things could be worse. The standout track, “Hands on the WHeel,” is along the same lines—a journey in which Q tells everyone what he’s good at, why he’s good at it and what his life simply consists of: weed, brews and women. A$AP Rocky joins him with a blistering verse where he comes across as the East Coast version of Q, all backed by a perfectly chosen sample of Lissie’s cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness.”

As Q continues to grow by analyzing his past, he continues to put a little bit of what he learns along the way into his music. With two albums, two mixtapes, extensive touring and new partners in rhyme like Lamar and Rocky now added to his résumé, the future looks bright for more retrospection and, hopefully, more introspection.


ScHoolboy Q – Habits & Contradictions tracklist:

  1. “Sacrilegious”
  2. “There He Go”
  3. Hands on the WHeel” (featuring A$AP Rocky, Lissie sample) – Kicks off Stubble vol. IV
  4. “Sex Drive” (featuring Jhené Aiko)
  5. “Oxy Music”
  6. “My Hatin’ Joint”
  7. “Tookie Knows (Interlude)”
  8. “Raymond 1969”
  9. “Sexting”
  10. “Grooveline Pt. 1” (featuring Curren$y & Dom Kennedy)
  11. “Gangsta in Designer (No Concept)”
  12. “How We Feeling”
  13. “Druggy’s wit Hoes Again” (featuring Ab-Soul)
  14. “NigHtmare on Figg St.”
  15. “My Homie”
  16. “Blessed” (featuring Kendrick Lamar)
  17. “NiggaHs.Already.Know.Davers.Flow”
  18. “2 Raw” (featuring Jay Rock) (Bonus Track)