ScHoolboy Q Thinks The Grammys Shade Gangsta Rap. He Details Next Album (Audio)
This weekend, the 59th Grammy Awards will take place. The Sunday affair promises an on-stage collaboration between Q-Tip and Anderson .Paak and a host of high-profile Hip-Hop stars in attendance at Los Angeles, California’s Staples Center. Even though the arena is just a few miles away from where ScHoolboy Q was born and raised, the Top Dawg Entertainment star is questioning whether or not he will go.
“[I will attend] if my daughter wants to go. I think she said she wants to go,” said the artist who is nominated for “Best Rap Album” and “Best Rap Performance” for his 2016 album, The Blank Face LP. He told Beats 1‘s Zane Lowe, “I may go. If she says it again that she wants to go I’ll go. But if she says she doesn’t want to go, I’m not gonna go. I’m not a suit type of person; I’m not into mingling.” His Black Hippy band-mate Kendrick Lamar collected a handful of awards a year ago, while also performing for a second consecutive year. For Q, he feels less prone to rub shoulders with musician peers and media. “I made it here without doing that and I’m gonna stay doin’ me.” Two years ago, Q, like Kendrick, was nominated for his first major label effort. “The first [Grammy Award] I got nominated for [with] OXYMORON, I didn’t even go to the awards. I’m like, ‘I’m not gon’ win.'”
Q tells Lowe that he sees a deeper phenomenon with awards shows and the kind of Hip-Hop he makes. “Yeah, [being nominated for a Grammy] is always dope, ’cause rappers like me, honestly, aren’t usually the type of rappers [nominated]. They don’t put rappers like me. So with me just being nominated, I won.” Several of Q’s friends and collaborators are exactly who he is competing against. “You see Chance [The Rapper], you see Kanye [West], you see Drake, you see De La Soul, none of them are like street rappers. Rap music came from the streets. Not knocking them…I love Chance’s music, I love Drake’s music, I love Kanye’s music, like, I’m fans. But it’s like they never want to acknowledge that other part [of Hip-Hop]. The fact that 50 Cent, Snoop [Dogg], Nas, none of these guys ever won a Grammy…Tupac didn’t win a Grammy, Biggie never won a Grammy. Why the artists like us never win the Grammy?” 50 Cent did win an award, as a feature through Eminem’s “Crack A Bottle.” Ice Cube is another icon who did not win a Grammy Award in his career to date.
Whether “Gangsta Rap” or “Street Rap,” artists including Jay Z and Naughty By Nature have won, as well as Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 win for To Pimp A Butterfly.
Groovy Q sees a distinction between his peers and the typical winners. “Like, we never get to walk up there and grab that Grammy. Everybody else do it: people that’s nice, people that’s kid-friendly music, or…you know what I’m saying? Like, you’ve got to have this whole smiling thing about you. You’ve got to show up and shake hands and everybody gotta love you. It’s like, what about the music though? What about the life?” As a survivor from L.A.’s gangland, Q appears to take this slight personally. “We are putting our life in our records. A lot people hear us talkin’ [and] they hear ‘shoot, shoot, shoot.’ You know how many people actually get shot in the hood, man? ‘Aw, all you talk about is shooting.’ No, niggas die in the hood, man! Yeah, I talk about shootin’! ‘Cause that’s what goes on. Street rappers, we have the most substance in our music, ’cause what we’re talkin’ about is for real.”
The artist who appeared on the Top 200 with a cult following long before his label deal argues “Like, a lot of people go into the studio and aim for a certain audience. We don’t aim for a certain audience. We go to the studio and we give you our life. I got 10 dead homies. I got over 15 homies in the pen’ that I’ll never see again…life [sentences].”
While speaking with Zane Lowe, ScHoolboy also touched upon the progression of his albums. “When I came out with Habits & Contradictions, the [album] I did in 2012, it was [themed around] all the things at that point that kept me away from what I wanted to get to, as far as me always contradicting myself, and my bad habits. [I] always want to go back to the black to hang out when I know I should just be at the studio. I finally get $100, knowing I should give it to my daughter. [Instead], I give $20 to her, and I keep $80 for myself. You know what I mean? [It was me] just being a deadbeat, and just overcoming those things. I just had to talk about it [as it pertains to] my life. OXYMORON was another time period in my life where I was selling Oxycontin and I was addicted to drugs at the same time. I was addicted to pills and I was sellin’ ’em at the same time. I never was addicted to Oxycontin, but like Percocets, [Xanax], and lean and stuff like that, I was addicted to it. So that’s why I got inspired by that. Blank Face was more so my life from top-to-bottom, as of now. I just wanted to dive into that and give you my life on Blank Face, from me being first bein’ from the hood, to my life now where I’m touring the world. That’s why I say [on ‘Str8 Ballin’]: ‘From sleepin’ on Top’s couch / To multiple bank accounts / To havin’ me a mall for a house / They tried to slim my chances as a kid though / They told me I’d never make it big though / Straight ballin’…‘ you get what I’m saying? All those things are like true stories.”
Lowe asks Q to apply that lineage towards what he is currently recording. “On this [next] record, it’s more so my life after I made it to the point of ‘ScHoolboy Q.’ Like, I gave you me [before], but I never gave you the other side of me: the father, the dude that’s actually happy to [work] that doesn’t be in the hood just hangin’ out, the dude that’s trying to put his homies in positions [of power]. I’m not a deadbeat father anymore. I’m in my daughter’s life; she lives with me.” Having started preliminary recording while on tour, the Black Hippy member says he immediately built upon those ideas when he returned to Southern California. “I’ve never been this inspired this [early into recording an album]. As soon as I got off tour I was [recording].”
Elsewhere in the interview, ScHoolboy Q discusses The Game solely running West Coast Rap throughout much of the last decade, prior to TDE’s arrival. Q confirms that he and Anderson .Paak have recorded multiple new songs, following their collaborations on Blank Face and Malibu.