Back when “Groovy Tony,” the lead single for Schoolboy’s “Blank Face LP,” came out in April, Q had my full attention. The song lived up to all my expectations for a Schoolboy Q track—mean, rugged, not-for-the-weak-minded, west coast gangsta music. I expected the same for the entire album, and, for the most part, that’s exactly what I received.
Schoolboy Q didn’t steer away from his unique style. He stuck to his roots, told a continuation of his story and managed to touch on multiple deep, real world topics. “Blank Face LP” is definitely a matured style of gangsta rap through and through with the lyrics, the production and the messages embedded in the songs.
The maturation in his lyrics was highlighted on “Black Thoughts” when he rapped, “All lives matter, both sides.” That line really struck me, especially with all the recent, tragic shootings. Schoolboy Q has since stated on Twitter that he was speaking about the unity between Bloods and Crips, but even so, the irony of a pure gangsta rapper talking about something so relevant in today’s society really spoke volumes to me. The Dallas shootings even happened at nearly the same time as the album’s premiere on Thursday night, which I thought made the irony even thicker.
My favorite albums have a variety of sounds, and we got that with the “Blank Face LP.” We got songs like “Ride Out,” “By Any Means,” “John Muir” and “Tookie Knows II” with the quintessential hardcore, Schoolboy Q vibe, but then we also got songs like “Kno Ya Wrong,” “Neva Change,” “Black Thoughts” and even “Blank Face” where Q laid out a softer, more conscious vibe. There’s even a sex/love song in “Overtime,” and even though Schoolboy Q described the song as “bootleg version of “Studio” and said the label made him put the song on the album, it seemed to fit the consistent flow of the album.
In conclusion, Schoolboy Q really stepped up his game with his “Blank Face LP.” He delved into different musical sounds while still sticking to his own sound. It was a roller-coaster-of-a-journey through the west coast in the life of a drug-dealing gangster topped off with rugged lyrics and rich production.
It seems a bit too early to go out on a limb and call “Blank Face LP” the “album of the year,” but it’s certainly on its way to being in the conversation.