ScHoolboy Q is one of the realest.
Combining his gangsta content with a laidback, groovy LA flow, ScHoolboy has one of the most distinct styles in rap.
He’s also progressed from a gangsta rapper to a more conscious, political rapper. Now that he’s a successful, made it off the block, and is a proud soccer dad, his perspective has changed from those early days.
He still talks about the street and the urban landscape he grew up around, but from a more cautious perspective than his earlier work.
From some of his earliest releases, like Gangsta & Soul all the way up to last year’s debut studio album Blank Face LP, ScHoolboy has always kept it a buck, even as his mindset has changed.
Here are some of his realest bars.
“Take The Pain Away” off Gangsta & Soul (2009)
“Wish I could take it back to when a nigga had a dream
But gangbangin’ love to enter nigga’s lives
So your life ain’t right
Young gauge earnin’ stripes
Started puffin drugs then you start sayin cuhz
Didn’t have a choice that’s the way shit was
I swear I need to set it to the side
But when I hear Pac make a nigga wanna ride
I guess I’m a hypocrite, still hangin’ with the Hipper Crips”
On “Take The Pain Away”, one of Q’s first tracks that started to garner the TDE signee some hype, ScHoolboy talked about the allure of street gangs growing up in LA.
While Q recognizes the discontents of gang life, as he says he “Didn’t have a choice” and that as much as he wants to quit the streets, he’s still bangin’ with the Crips.
“WHat’s the Word” off Setbacks (2011)
“Lights out shootin’ ranges, shit is dangerous
Keep yo shoes tied motherfucker
Shit it gets live motherfucker, shit’s real
Get your ass strapped up in the field
Youngin’ should’ve let your muscle build
Broken jaws and them stars be the evidence
Just another nigga tatted up among my abdomen”
On one of the hardest songs in Q’s discography, ScHoolboy paints a picture of the environment he grew up in with some cold ass bars.
“There He Go” off Habits & Contradictions (2012)
“Chiefing like a mothafuckin’ Seminole
Here we go, off probation probably go to Mexico
Furthermore, can’t find this in the store, this shit ain’t for the low
Got my daughter swagging like her mothafuckin’ daddy though
The patio, what a mothafuckin’ view
Nappy chin hairs, bitch, I’m mothafuckin’ Q”
“There He Go” was the track that vaulted Q into the mainstream. He took a new angle when addressing the LA gang life he grew up in.
At this point he had seen some success and was just living life on tracks like the celebratory “There He Go”.
“Oxy Music” off Habits & Contradictions (2012)
“Blood on the wall, death in the air
Birds on the ground, pistols everywhere
Devils in the eyes, babies always cry
Papa never home, fuck it we all alone
Tryna get rich and that cork in right
Grab me the beaker, I’ll measure the white
Heat up the water drop it in pot
Baking soda and ice cubes make it rock
Get you a saucer the razor go chop
Get you a Glock and invest in a block
Set up ya shop, dare ’em to pop
Fucked by the cop jacked his ass with a shot”
Habits & Contradictions is a project that displays the awkward place that Q and a lot of rappers on the verge of success find themselves. On one hand, like on “There He Go”, he’s suited up in designer, but his drug dealing past isn’t too far behind.
That poetic description of the place he grew up is some damn good writing.
“Gangsta” off Oxymoron (2014)
I got my drink in my cup, I got my Backwood, no Swishers
And bitch, I’m faded, fucking faded, yeah, I’m famous
What? I’m famous, fucking famous, n**** I made it!
When I was broke, I got me that nine
With that nine, I hit me that lick
And then with that lick, it came with that yola
With that yola, it came with your bitch
On 2014’s Oxymoron, ScHoolboy is officially famous. He’s made it. And with that fame and money, he refers to those days of hitting licks and dealing drugs in the past tense.
He’s now looking back on those days, no longer describing them as his present circumstances.
“Hoover Street” off Oxymoron (2014)
Since a young nigga
I admired the crack sellers, seen my uncle steal
From his mother, now that’s the money that I’m talking ’bout
Think about it, the smoker ain’t got shit and everyday
He still get a hit, whether jacking radios or sucking dick
Here, ScHoolboy addresses drug addiction and the appeal of drug dealing in his neighborhood. He’s seen how drug addicts will literally do anything to get a fix and admired drug dealers who supplied it.
“Blank Face” off Blank Face LP (2016)
Told me stay in school, my dream was just a small percentage
Said a million wasn’t realistic
Last year I spent it, what’s the laws of physics?
Move pounds or move down to Section 8 livin’
Grew up around Crippin’, woo business
On his recent album Blank Face LP, ScHoolboy raps about the odds of making it out of his neighborhood. That he was deterred from living out his dreams because of the percentages. To ScHoolboy, people in his environment can either deal drugs or live in poverty.
“Str8 Balling” off Blank Face LP (2016)
“Figured that I gotta sell dope, or the money won’t grow
Figured I was too short, and I could never turn pro
You could tell I never had shit, but bet I get that 80 grand wrist
Told me we could never get rich
Now watch me ride the Chevy hit the switch
Straight ballin’ like a bitch”
In this 2pac homage, ScHoolboy gets as political as ever, talking once again abut his prospects growing up. There’s also an intense element of “fuck you” to those who told him he wouldn’t make it and now he’s ballin’ like a bitch.
“The teachers ain’t teachin’, the judge taught us numbers
We was raised by single mothers
Pop wouldn’t tuck us under covers
Through the streets we learned colors”
Q addressed these specific lyrics when speaking to HipHopDX after the album’s release about his growth as an artist,
“I’ll be 30 in October. I know I look 45 it’s ok. I’ll be 30 in October. When you hit that age, it’s almost like you done seen things twice. You done experienced things. Things went your way then it didn’t go your way. The kid is seven now. I still remember when she was nine months. Life is changing. I’m not really a gangbanger no more, but I also wanted to touch on that and let people know. That’s why I got lyrics like [those above]. It’s just like certain things I woulda never said I woulda been like ‘Aw, no, I’m too tough, I can’t be going all on that.’ That political thing, I just opened up myself and that comes with recording at my house.”
One of the best parts about being a music fan is seeing your favorite artists grow over the years. As a ScHoolboy Q stan from the jump, it’s been dope to see the progression since “Take The Pain Away”.
Here’s to more success, more life, and more bars.