ScHoolboy Q Discusses How Kendrick Lamar Saved His Life
ScHoolboy Q is preparing his fourth album in over four years. However, despite his lengthy breaks between projects, the Los Angeles, California MC’s career remains as a leader in the Rap game. Groovy Q appeared on Top Dawg Entertainment-affiliated podcast Back On Figg this week to speak with T-Rell, Smac, and Heather.
At 1:20:30, ScHoolboy Q is asked about the lessons he learned from friend, Black Hippy collaborator, and former label-mate Kendrick Lamar. “Dot taught me so much, bro. Dot gave me so much confidence. Dot made me a rapper,” begins Q. He admits that the subject conjures emotions. “This s__t make me wanna cry right now—Charlamagne got me to cry; never again. Dot saved my life. I owe a lot to Dot. This dude saw me.”
ScHoolboy Q then references a period following his 2009 sophomore mixtape Gangsta & Soul. “I told you when [MixedByAli] pulled me to the side first, right? He was like, ‘Bro, we gotta talk, right? Man, you slippin’. You ain’t on your game. You’re slippin’. You’re taking these trips. You’re doin’ this s__t; you’re doin’ that—and muh’f___as is about music [around here]; that gangsta s__t ain’t really tight.'” ScHoolboy Q was making plays for money that may have put him in compromising positions. The TDE engineer and producer checked the wayward label artist. “Ali pulled me to the side, and they had the whole intervention with me: Top had an intervention; he wanted to get rid of me.” While Top Dawg was ready to drop Q from the budding label and MixedByAli was checking on the artist, Kendrick Lamar presented an opportunity. “Dot saved me. Dot made me his hype man. He would tell me to come to the studio all the time.” Q mimics a persistent Kendrick Lamar repeating himself constantly. ‘We in the studio, you got your verse ready?'” ScHoolboy Q admits that he was not prioritizing songwriting. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, I got my verse ready,’ and I’m [writing] on the way to that mothaf__a, just some bulls__t.'” However, Q guested on 2009’s The Kendrick Lamar EP and 2010’s Overly Dedicated.
Q continues, revealing that Kendrick Lamar was not shy about exposing Q’s talent and potential to music legends. “Dre was initially interested in Kendrick, and then every time he’s goin’ to Dre’s s__t, ‘I’m goin’ to Dre’s s__t. Pull up. Pull up.’ I was like his lil’ sidekick. I would pull up. Boom; we’re in Dre’s s__t. Boom. Boom. Boom. Next thing you know, Dre’s hearing my s__t [and supporting it].”
Dr. Dre’s support of ScHoolboy Q ultimately led to 2013’s Oxymoron, a Grammy-nominated release with major label distribution. Q claims that Dre’s interest is what made Interscope select a second TDE artist to distribute after Kenny. “Then I get my deal because of Dre, really. I got signed to Interscope because Dre was f___in’ with me [as well as Manny Smith]. What I’m sayin’ is, he just kept pullin’ me, and kept pullin’ me. And I just kept crackin’ to the point where he fired me from being his hype-man in 2011. It was kinda a ghosting-firing, too.”
ScHoolboy Q recalls the tough love that Kendrick gave his then-frequent collaborator. “He was preppin’ his tour and I wasn’t involved in it. I was like, oh, it’s over. Then I hit him one day, and I was like, ‘So what’s up with the hype-man s__t?’ Right? He laughed at me. Like, ‘Bro, you crackin’!'” ScHoolboy says this was in 2011, a year that marked a tipping point for Black Hippy and TDE. “I dropped Setbacks, right? I’m low-key crackin’; I’m makin’ a little dollars here and there. He’s like, ‘Bro, you crackin’. It’s over with. Like, the fact that you’re asking me this, do you even get it?’ It was one of those.”
However, Q admits that it took weeks to understand the pivot. He longed for his role as hype-man. “I was hurt. I made ‘Hands On The Wheel.’ Like two months later, it was on the radio.” The artist laughs in recalling how events played out, especially with a breakout single from 2012’s Habits & Contradictions that featured A$AP Rocky. “He pulled me so long ’til he couldn’t pull no more, and then he let go, and that was it. And within two months, God blessed me—I mean, He blessed me at birth with what I have, but he blessed me to realize it, and I never left the studio since. Never.” Here, ScHoolboy Q reminds that his mic is hot and his pen is sharp. “I don’t drop a lot of music, but I’m never not in the studio. Don’t ever get it f___ed up, ever. Ever.”
After 2022’s “Soccer Dad” loosie, ScHoolboy Q has music ready to go. Despite Kendrick’s 2021 announcement of parting ways from TDE, he remains in contact with Q. “We still talk, though. He heard this album.” The artist finishes the segment praising his friend’s influence. “Just standing next to that dude makes you a millionaire.”
#BonusBeat: In 2012, during his breakout run, Ambrosia For Heads interviewed ScHoolboy Q: