Let’s face it.
In the past few years, the West Coast hasn’t done much to impress the hip-hop world. We get the occasional track from Snoop, and we all know what to expect. But that’s him, so we love it.
In my opinion, The Game is no longer relevant, and the New Boyz? Really?
The golden era of the West Coast where NWA rapped rampant and Tupac Shakur became one the most influential rappers is history is gone.
And in its dormancy, the South became popular with its energized and creative hip-hop and dance music.
Southern-bred rappers like Ludacris, The Ying Yang Twins, T-Pain and Outkast dominated the South and the airwaves, but since the disbanding of Outkast, the South really hasn’t been the same.
Rick Ross and Lil Wayne are their only major players in case you forgot they were from the South.
Nowadays, hip-hop’s sound is more diverse with rappers from Cleveland, Detroit, D.C. and colleges all over the country.
With all the change it seemed as if the West Coast no longer mattered, but in recent years newcomers from the West Coast have come to try to kick start their sound again.
Some notable rappers like Nippsey Hustle show potential, but there isn’t much else to choose from.
That is until you hear the Black Hippie collective known as Kendrick Lamar, SchoolBoy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock.
Each member consistently releases quality music, and now SchoolBoy Q releases his sophomore album “Habits & Contradictions.”
A follow-up to his last year release “Setbacks,” HnC has a nostalgic feel of LA during the golden era of West Coast rap.
With themes like weed, drugs, women, and violence, HnC and SchoolBoy Q may come off as just another rapper with an album, but Q manages to put in his own taste by putting in his own energetic introspective style.
On this album, listeners are brought to the streets of LA in 2012, and manages to make us remember the magic of 90s LA. Tracks like “Homie,” touch upon snitches, but Q personalizes it by giving examples from his life: “For really though? We was just slangin’ oxy like a year ago, you knew my sister though, aunties, cousins, and my Uncle Joe. Cuz you hit my dro, see my n**** you’s a h**. Remember them cheerios? Ninja turtles on my grandma’s floor I’m like for sure, Donatello.”
And on one of the stand out tracks, “Blessed,” Q preaches to look at the bright side in spite of setbacks: “My n**** just lost his son while I’m here hugging on my daughter. I grip her harder, kiss her on the forehead as I cry for a bit.”
Moments like these on the album are reminiscent of the West Coast’s stories of people plagued by gang banging.
Q sounds comfortable and confident this time around switching up flows, aggressiveness, and experimenting with beats and vocals during songs.
“Sacreligious” opens up the album perfectly with dark rhythmic tones, pulsating drums, stream of thought style vocals to effectively define the themes touched upon in the album.
“There He Go,” one of the best tracks on the album, transitions “Sacreligious” into the rest of the album with it’s melodic piano, head bopping drums, spastic vocals, and cocky hook.
It perfectly portrays the Cali feel, and it’s energetic feel leads well into the rest of the album.
“Habits & Contradictions” is a well-constructed look into the present and future of the West Coast. SchoolBoy Q is bringing a new sound to hip-hop, and with this album is reinventing the West Coast sound.