You'll quickly notice improvement in ScHoolboy Q's flow and ability to tell a story on "Lord Have Mercy," where he takes you on a brief journey comparing the typical pitfalls of running the streets to how his life and relationships have been affected by fame over the years. He speaks on how he chooses to meet his demons with a blank face to show that he is unphased by anyone from his hood that tries to tear down his success. On the surface, this may seem like an excessively used topic in rap, but Q's clever ability to paint a vivid picture within such a brief window (1:44 to be exact) is nothing short of amazing.
"Shakin these broken hands and, meet em wit Blank Faces / Snake eyes keepin my back achin / Dirty habits of rappin and being savage / Still hangin wit niggaz that can't do nothin but cause damage / Guess I'm being a real nigga like I'm 'posed to be / but being real never once bought the groceries / and, Top told me Keep rappin, you'll make it hopefully."
Gangsta Rap may sound like a played-out label these days, but Blank Face LP is a vessel of preservation for that long-lost art of storytelling due to the majority of Q's work paying homage to the big homies he grew up on. "Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane" features an assist from Jadakiss whom Q juxtaposed his own career with in a recent interview stating that much like Kiss, he felt like an underdog despite still having a healthy catalog of great music. "Dope Dealer" finds ScHoolboy Q aligning himself with E-40 who has been an ambassador for collaborating with artists from this generation for several years. Naturally, the groovy side of Q makes a few appearances as well throughout Blank Face LP on "WHateva U Want," and "Overtime," which may be the only two songs on the album that even come close to sounding like radio material. Luckily, no compromises for the sake of appeal were made on any of these funk-infused tracks. "Big Body" is the perfect blend of old and new LA flavor, with Tyler the Creator crafting a beat that recaptures that early 90s west coast bounce, and Kurupt and Daz Dillinger from Tha Dogg Pound absolutely slaying their verses.
While every song resonated with me in some way, I found myself revisiting three tracks in particular most often. "JoHn Muir," "Neva CHange," and "Black THougHts" provide a certain level of ingenuity and sensibility that shakes the soul in a way that I haven't felt in years. Top Dawg label mate SZA's soothing contribution to "Neva CHange" was definitely a welcome change of pace.
It's really tough to find any weak spots on this album. There's a good chance that every track will eventually take root and begin to resonate with you at some point. It may be safe to say that Blank Face LP is at least Q's most cohesive project to date, but on the flip-side it still lacks that thunder found on most of his previous albums. Luckily the omission of the typical radio-worthy banger doesn't detract from the overall body of work. Blank Face LP is the type of album that long-term careers are built upon. To quote local artist JDVBBS "In a time where artists are constantly throwing curve balls in hip-hop, Q pitches this shit straight down the middle and nails it." While a cyclone of rap debris continues to revolve around them, TDE is like the eye of the shitstorm, managing to remain cool calm and collected while continuing to crank out nothing but impressive albums.