Schoolboy Q: “I’m One Star Away From Perfect”

After a lifestyle of hustling and dealing oxycontin on the streets of Los Angeles, Schoolboy Q‘s new lifestyle is more in tune with one of a hip-hop heavyweight, and rightfully so. However, when talking one-on-one to Schoolboy Q, it’s clear that his hard gangsta life in LA has defined him up to a point.

But while that hard-knock background proves to be reliable source material on his latest album, Oxymoron, there’s clearly more to the man. Speaking to Music Feeds, he discusses collaborating with his friends, aka some of the most notable in hip hop royalty, how he changed his headspace on Oxymoron to help deliver the goods, and the need to flaunt his comedy skills if the opportunity arises.

Schoolboy Q, aka Quincy Matthew Hanley, will be making his headline debut in Australia this June. Previously slated to come over as support for hip-hop supercrew Slaughterhouse, with a mega new album under his belt, fans will now get to see Q as the budding superstar he’s become.

Watch: ScHoolboy Q – Break The Bank

Music Feeds: Hey, Schoolboy Q. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. What’s up?

Schoolboy Q: Yeah, what’s up? Just chilling. I’m on the tour bus [driving from LA to the Midwest].

MF: Great. We had to ask you this because we know you like to smoke up and it is coming up in a couple of days. Have you got any plans for 420 this year? What do you usually do?

SQ: Well, smoke weed and lay back. But I got two shows that night in Minneapolis, and they’ve both sold out. I’m ready to do 4000 [people capacity venues] shit, I’d rather do two shows a night. I started doing the old thing, and [like to] see the people.

It’ll probably be the last time I’ll be able to do that crowd because I’m getting so big. All my shows sold out so fast it’s almost impossible to keep [doing that] — impossible and wrong for me to [stick to] small venues that sell out too fast.

MF: Speaking of your shows, you’re coming to Australia in June which is good news for Aussie fans. Will this be your first time to Australia? What are you expecting from the tour, and what can fans expect?

SQ: Fuck, energy. I can’t wait [for Australia]. I’ve never been to Australia so I don’t know what to expect. I expect pretty girls. Hopefully I run into some women.

MF: Our weed laws are kinda lax from what touring artists say.

SQ: Oh, so you don’t care if I smoke my weed out there?

MF: Hopefully you can find it. Anyway, you’ve stated that your latest album, Oxymoron, chronicles the real LA, and that on this album you wanted to talk to the gangstas. From listening to the album, you can tell this is well and truly an LA gangsta rap record.

What are some of the key distinctions for you between the LA that you portray and come from, compared to LA that other rap tends to portray?

SQ: It’s the older, rougher [LA] full of stuff like gangbangers and dealing. There were only a few gangbangers back in the day who were still rapping. And me, I just wanted to put it all out there, like gangbanging is real, that shit is real, you know what I mean?

MF: Why was it important to capture that gangbanging rap side of LA?

SQ: No one had had really put it out there. Everybody was just scared, to be incorporated in that. But with me, you know, I got here [by doing that]. I still have more for my next album, that’s about [all that].

MF: I just wanted to go into a bit more of what headspace you were in for the album. So your last album was called Habits and Contradictions and this one is called Oxymoron. And both underscore an interest in a conflicting attitude.

Is it right that you have an interest in exploring that contradictory attitude and what is your interest in this?

SQ: Everybody is a contradiction, you know? Like everybody.

MF: Definitely. Where did yours come from?

SQ: I mean, just being me. Contradicting myself on the life stage, a lot of personal shit that I’m going to save for my next album that I’d never say in interviews, because this is the shit that I can rap and not say to you if you’re going to censor it out. [I might as well] put it on my next album.

Watch: Schoolboy Q – Man Of The Year

MF: I think you’ve also said that Oxymoron boasts a more comfortable Schoolboy Q. What did you mean by that and how do you feel that affected how you worked on the album?

SQ: I mean, every other album felt like I was trying to please the audience, try to think about what people would think about when I drop this. And on this I just focussed on the art, it’s about my life and my music. And actually it ended up with the highest ratings, all these places have been giving it four out of five. You know what I mean?

I’m like one star away from perfect, that basically means they only disliked two songs. Actually, I can’t remember the last album that they disliked more than two songs.

MF: Does that mean this next album after Oxymoron will be a five out of five, a classic?

SQ: Ahhh man, shit. You’ve gotta wait, you’ve gotta wait. I’ve got a lot of things here that people don’t know.

MF: Well, we’ve listened to Oxymoron and we really like it. One of the things that we like about you is that you characterise and use your voice, which is really unique from other rappers.

For instance, on Gangsta, you croak, bark and growl with such aggression. Do you notice this when rapping? Is that a conscious thing you do when performing?

SQ: Yeah, I’m an instrument also, you know I’m part of the beat. When I say ‘yak yak yak’ that’s like an 808 or something banging. I said before, when Kendrick’s last album comes on, when ‘yak yak yak’ comes on, [it’s like] a bass just come in and go ‘bam bam bam bam’. It’s an instrument. I’ll use my voice as an instrument.

MF: It’s kinda like when you do the percussive ‘knock knock knock’ on a couple of other songs.

SQ: Yeah, ‘knock knock knock’, ya know, it’s all an instrument, hell yeah.

MF: You were listed as one of the hottest artists to watch for 2013 and 2014. How does it feel to release an album on the back of so much buzz?

SQ: It’s cool, I’ve never felt pressure. I’m not worried about nothing. My album dropped in the Top 40. I believe in myself, I dream big and now we’re here.

MF: With that buzz, it’s allowed you to work with a lot of hip hop royalty. For instance, Danny Brown, A$AP Mob, Kendrick, Action Bronson and even Macklemore. What was it like working with such an extensive list, and is there anything you’ve taken away from them?

SQ: They all my friends, ya know? I only work with people I’m cool with. [Working with me is] nothing to them. It’s a phone call and “Wanna come to the studio?” and I’m there.

MF: Well, it’s clearly reciprocated because people are there for you as well. We recently saw Flying Lotus play in Melbourne and he played Break The Bank in full. That tune is clearly a classic, but did you know that Flying Lotus really digs that track?

SQ: Me and Flying Lotus are buddies. We got records that we that we never released, they kinda weren’t all finished. I should do some new shit with him. I’ve been a big fan of Flying Lotus since the beginning.

MF: Would you do a Flying Lotus thing or a Captain Murphy thing? What would that be?

SQ: Nah, he’d give me a beat, man, ya know that!

Watch: What White People Are Allowed to Say At A Schoolboy Q Concert

MF: You’ve recently been performing live on the TV circuit. But we recently found a clip of you that is a bit different. It’s an interview on The Pete Holmes Show which had us laughing so hard. You were talking about TV makeup, permitting white people at your concerts to say the N-word, your height, stealing your mum’s weed…

How’d you find doing that TV interview?

SQ: I’m just there to be me, I don’t care if there’s a camera or whatever, I’ll just be me. If I have a comment to say I’m going to say it. If you’re an ugly person to me, I’m gonna tell you you’re ugly. If you’re the best to me, I’ll say you’re the best to me.

It’s just me. If it’s time to be funny, and I need to do back and forth with jokes, then I’ll be funny. My personality is that I adapt myself with the surroundings. That’s how I’ve made it this far.

MF: One of the things that we really liked about that TV interview is that you really held your own. You have some natural comedy chops. You seem to be good at it, in case you were ever thinking of transitioning careers.

SQ: Oh yeah, I am [laughs]. That’s the next thing I’ll do, thank-you. Do some rap, do some stand-up. I’m just waiting for the right phone call and an audition. I’ve only auditioned once but I didn’t get the part. I know for sure that I’m a good actor but I could probably tap into some crazy shit.

MF: We watched a video of you on Funny Or Die testing some hoverboards. We know it was a joke but how did that come about? We really didn’t understand what was going on but would you buy a hoverboard in real life?

SQ: I wouldn’t buy a hoverboard because that’d be really dangerous. You might run into a wall, or you might fly too high and it runs out and you’re going to die, ya know what I mean?

MF: Sure do. Thanks for the time, Schoolboy Q.

Watch: SchoolBoy Q feat Kendrick Lamar – Collard Greens

Schoolboy Q’s latest album, ‘Oxymoron’, is out now. He’ll be making his Australian live headline debut this June — full details here.

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