Hip-hop in California is a wildly different beast from its cousins in the East and South. The sunshine and fun associated with the state’s oceanic property has always had a counterweight with the inner city’s long history of dark, violent rap music. From the N.W.A. and Tupac Shakur on up to more recent names like Kendrick Lamar and Odd Future, the West coast is a breeding ground of rap’s most vitriol rhymes. Etching out his own career in that tradition is LA emcee ScHoolboy Q.
At just 25, Q released his first mixtape in July 2008; success came rather quickly, with his 2011 LP, Setbacks, reaching #100 on the Billboard 200. After a beef with G-Unit affiliate 40 Glocc, Q also made sure to find equally talented running buddies, creating the group Black Hippy alongside the aforementioned Lamar. As other Cali rappers have faced in the past, he’s now at a crucial crossroads, caught between local hype and slowly emerging national attention. His latest album, Habits & Contradictions, could catapult Q into that next echelon.
Proof positive of that claim is found in the party-hardy “Hands on the Wheel”, featuring Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky. Sampling Lissie’s cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness”, the cut’s woozy, glitchy production is the perfect backdrop for Q’s flow: heavy-handed rhymes (“Turn a beat on, aint no limit to what I can do/See this Top Dawg in heat, but Im a f-ck the world”) delivered in a relaxed pace with oodles of charisma. Rocky too continues delivering more and more verses of vulgar gold, quoting bits of the chorus between F-bombs and confessing his love for all things sticky. Watch the track’s accompanying music video, which sees the two rappers and a few lovely ladies enjoying some quality time with their favorite illicit and non-illicit substances, below.
Habits & Contradictions is out now via Top Dawg Entertainment.