Album Review: ScHoolboy Q – Blue Lips

When it comes to hip-hop in the late 2010s, Top Dawg Entertainment was the label to keep an eye out on, and we got many successes from the obvious ones like Kendrick Lamar and later on (and especially now) SZA to artists like Ab-Soul, Jay Rock (aka the first one on the label) and Isaiah Rashad. But today we’re going to focus on Schoolboy Q.

Q has gotten a lot of success in his career with critically and commercially acclaimed albums like Blank Face LP, Setbacks, Habits & Contradictions and even Oxymoron. The last LP of his was released 5 years ago with Crash Talk, and I remember not being high on that one. There were a few decent tracks I liked but as a whole, I didn’t really go back to that one as much. Now during that album break, he made a few guest appearances on tracks with Conway, Roc Marciano, Larry June, Freddie Gibbs, and Gorillaz among others. Plus there was some single material here and there like the one-off “Soccer Dad,” but that one didn’t translate into anything good as it’s not on the album at all.

So now, we have Blue Lips. I was curious to see how this one would go with singles like “Yeern 101”, “Blueslides” & “Back N Love,” and while the former and latter singles to me were decent (although I see myself liking “Yeern 101” a bit more during the album listen), “Blueslides” is a poignant track that talks about mental health and your surroundings. These lyrics spelt it out clearly:

How you made it up out of Figg’? It’s like he musta knew magic
Lost a homeboy to the drugs, man, I ain’t tryna go backwards
When I realize that his **** hurt and think, “Was it worth it?”
Man I gotta shake this shit, wake up and move with a purpose
Been a prisoner in my own house, I don’t know if they noticed
I done broke down so many times, next time, it gon’ catch me
I done helped out so many people, they took me for granted

The 2nd line and the title of the song is referencing the late Mac Miller; ‘blue slides’ is a reference off Mac’s debut studio album, Blue Slides Park.

The thing I like about this album is the varied production as there’s something different in every part of the song, like the opening “Funny Guy” which has this mellow and fluttering vibe, mainly going in for living in high luxury. Soon, the next track “Pop” kicks you in the face with the grimiest and most hardcore beats on the record with its charged guitar and punk-type production. And oh look, Rico Nasty joins in on the fun, and while her verse is fitting, it felt short (the last part of her verse has an abrupt cut). But onward to the next song “THank god 4 me”, an absolute banger with these solid bars.

My neck piece looking like Paris
The Maybach, me and her married
I look down, nigga, that’s scary (Ayy)
The rat tails need to get buried
You hanging on to it, now, barely
Move on, nigga, that’s clarity
Came home, nigga, that’s scandalous
Caught red-handed on candid (Ayy) bitch-ass nigga, you fancy
IG lookin’ like Bambi
Real life, nigga, no Grammys
Big watch, nigga, it’s glossy


“Love Birds” with Devin Malik & Lance Skiiwalker is about how he mistreated his partner with Lance having more of the softer vocals with the minimalist fluttering instrumentals. It’s one of the more calm moments on the album, but then that’s followed up by “Movie”, going in on this fun West Coast sounding vibe. And it’s all handled by the feature, AZ Chike, as his verse flows well in here all being the interlude leading into  “Cooties”. That track along with “Love Birds” were the other two of the 5 singles released prior to the album, and “Cooties” does lean into the more melodic and soft side of things.

Mass shootings, when will they stop it? Hmm
‘Nother kid gone for unlimited profits
Rather keep my kid home, before you fuck up the process
I’d rather die and lose it all, before they don’t get the knowledge
I’d rather die and lose it all, before I turn on my partners

“oHio” might be the cut that does the most beat/tone switches, with the first part having this groovy, soulful and lush production that represents that lavish and pristine style; then it switches to this second beat which is this hard-hitting trap beat that got Schoolboy going hard on that part, and then the third part has this jazzy beat that sounds like if Madlib or Alchemist produced it. And since I mentioned those producers, one rapper who worked with both of them made an appearance…. hey, Freddie Gibbs, good to see you here. He turned in a solid verse and he ended it with this, “If I ever catch see that pussy nigga Akademiks, I’ma catch another lawsuit (Hahaha), huh.” A reminder that DJ Akademiks is forever a punk-ass bitch.

Then in comes “Foux” with Ab-Soul, and this one has drum ‘n bass production going on, making it the most interesting and vibrant song of the album, and this song is about… well, drugs. Actually, it’s part of his “Druggys With Hoes” series of songs with Ab-Soul. The bridge of this is catchy, but I think repeating “Marijuana, hydro, pussy hoe, ass, titties” might have people looking at you weird. Also that line is a callback to the first song in the series off his debut album Setbacks. Still, this is one banger of a track.

For the rest of the album, you got joints that either bang or just go in one ear and out the other. “First” and “Nunu” were cool tracks with some good lyrics about making a career in the music industry and dealing with someone’s ego and letting go of people that are toxic in your life. “Back n Love” was another single prior to the release, it was fine; “Lost Times” grew on me and hearing that this is produced by The Alchemist, I was sold. In the beginning, School did sound like how Stove God Cooks would be rapping or doing a hook and honestly, Jozzy on the chorus sounds like Swae Lee to me. I don’t know, I just picture that for some reason.

“Germany ’86” has this groovy and soulful instrumental with him rapping on the contrast of his past and current lives, like how his mom served in the Army and how his childhood had him stressed out like he’s 30 when he’s 10.



My superhero’s a woman, you know she served for this country
Sent her back to the Hoovers, left her son for the shooters
We in the streets playin’ catch, I guess we comin’ up nеxt, uh
I guess we comin’ up next, I guеss we growin’ up stressed

By ten years, we was 30, watchin’ your homie get stretched
Watchin’ your homie get X’ed out and bleed through his flesh
I feel leveled, I’m straight
, my head better, I’m good

As a whole, this album does do what Schoolboy Q does best: make his own form of gangsta rap that both talk about the lifestyle, the braggadocios, and the bangers while exploring the meta of it, how it affects your mental health and can sometimes go out of your comfort zone. I admit during the last few tracks (“Time Killers”, “Pig feet” & “Smile”),  I tuned out a bit, and I wouldn’t miss a thing about those tracks but the length isn’t a dealbreaker. Yeah, it’s approximately an hour and spans 18 tracks but there’s more to like than dislike. That and there isn’t 5 different versions of this album to boost streaming numbers. *coughMac&Cheese5cough*

However, one more thing: “You my Kim K to my Kanye” – that was from “Smile”… Yeah, that aged horribly. Was this in the vault?

Overall, Blue Lips is a slight improvement from Crash Talk in terms of being sonically interesting and daring, much like in the vein of Blank Face LP. The content remains varied from a lot of topics regarding what we know in the gangsta rap genre; the production doesn’t feel boxed in doing just the same beat and the features didn’t feel too shabby either, they did their part and didn’t overshadow the main artist.

FINAL VERDICT: STREAM IT.  A solid listen that won’t leave you with blue balls. 

BLUE LIPS is on Top Dawg Entertainment/Interscope Records. It is available on CD, vinyl, digital download & streaming services.

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