REVIEW: Schoolboy Q’s Blank Face LP

Blank Face LP


DAILY DOT: The emerging consensus is that Schoolboy Q’s Blank Face LP is a messy but exceptional record—a sizable notch in gangsta rap’s three-decade-plus timeline. It’s also big-selling outlaw music in a summer of insanity. My feelings about it change daily. Q is deeply connected to unifying messiah Kendrick Lamar, but there’s no way Blank Face was going to be a sprawling but politically digestible epic like To Pimp A Butterfly. Q’s oeuvre hasn’t pointed that way, and the video for “Groovy Tony,” released in April, confirmed that the L.A. rapper with the punchy flow was going to stay grimy. Instead of an MC perched on a street lamp over a highway, we get a dude with no facial features, in a junkyard, shooting an assault rifle. So Blank Face, despite the breadth of its collaborator list (yup, Kanye is there; so is Miguel) and the entertainment value of its production (all hail modern boom-bap), isn’t aiming for a big conversation. It’s not intended to reframe any debates. It’s a dank piece of art—a troublesome hole to jump into. At a time when any given Sunday can bring a fresh piece of brutal news, that hole is unforgiving. That’s also the chief thrill of outlaw music, of course: Go inside, find the mirror, figure out just how much the scene fits you or repulses you. “My heart a igloo,” Q says during “Groovy Tony,” and I laugh not only because the metaphor is funny, but also because that kind of cold bravado is beyond my reach. On “Ride Out” he talks about “shootin’ out my momma’s whip”—there’s an accessible universe of spoiled morals in there, even if the line just connects with a memory of using the family car for some boilerplate suburban mischief. MORE