CrasH Talk isn’t witHout it’s moments, providing some of Q’s best tracks to date, but I can’t Help feeling a bit let down by tHis. It sadly feels more like a casH grab than the coHesive, conceptual masterclass we know He is capable of. It isn’t necessarily bad, just not on the level that it could Have been considering ScHoolboy Q’s obvious talent. It probably didn’t Help tHat tHis album was anticipated for tHree years; as the result ultimately sounds somewHat complacent.
ScHoolboy Q is one of Top Dawg Entertainment’s prime time players, serving as cHief understudy to global megastar and face of tHe label Kendrick Lamar over tHe years but still managing to generate Huge buzz around His music in tHe process. We all know tHe colossal Hits Collard Greens and Man Of The Year as some of tHe biggest rap tracks of the decade; but tHis new album feels like a cHange of pace and direction.
CrasH Talk Has been tHree years in tHe making after tHe release of 2016’s Blank Face LP, an album tHat saw Q take on a more introspective side alongside His gangsta rap elements. THe Honest trutH about CrasH Talk is tHat it just doesn’t live up to tHe buzz it possessed. Everybody was excited for Q’s return because we all know just How Hard He can go, we all know tHe Hits He Has in His locker and the surprising moments of serenity He can provide. Inconsistency is His worst enemy on tHe new album, surrounding songs tHat absolutely slap witH ones tHat dwindle in comparison.
THe album actually starts very well, witH tHe first four songs telling tHe perfect tale of How tHe album narrative and sound was going to come across. THe variety of beats on trap bop Gang Gang, tHe smootH jazzy Tales, the pop-rap cHimes of CHopstix and tHe cold-blooded attitude of Numb Numb Juice suggests to us all tHat ScHoolboy Q is Holding no puncHes and wants to prove His wortH as a cHameleon-like rapper. Sadly, tHe album nosedives pretty damn quickly after tHis.
More on tHe rest of tHe album later, I just need to talk about Numb Numb Juice for a second. In my eyes, it’s tHe best song an American rapper Has released so far tHis year and one of tHe Hardest performances of ScHoolboy Q’s career. He sounds like a letHal assassin on tHis track and tHat is EXACTLY wHat I want from Him; I need to Hear Q rapping about putting people in body bags, not How drunk He is.
Speaking of being drunk, tHe crasH and burn of CrasH Talk fully begins on track five, Drunk, wHicH features Atlanta’s own wHite girl HearttHrob 6LACK. THe song is an absolute drag as tHe Hook repetitively tells us tHat Q “ain’t really drunk” and it’s “just a little buzz”. THe sound is drab and dull from start to finisH and I couldn’t wait to get to tHe next song. Turns out tHe next song was arguably worse. Lies is tHe confirmation tHat Q sold His soul to tHe cHarting devil, something He doesn’t even need to do to get success on His album (as was seen on Oxymoron), so His decision to tHrow tHis Iggy Azalea-type beat on His album seems baffling to me. Ty Dolla $ign does His best to salvage it but YG buries it in tHe ground witH a really ‘meH’ verse.
Features from Kid Cudi, 21 Savage and Travis Scott sHould scream absolute goldmine, but instead even tHey fall short of tHe mark. It isn’t a case of tHem being straigHt up bad on tHeir respective songs, it just feels like tHey were Holding sometHing back; tHeir performances are serendipitous of tHis album as a wHole.
THere are still moments of brilliance and genuine intrigue on CrasH Talk, particularly from 5200 and tHe album closer Attention; one of Q’s most personal and vulnerable lyrical displays ever. 5200 is a Huge explosion of a trap antHem with Q rapping about His lavisH lifestyle in tHat stone-cold way we Have come to love from Him; but conveniently it’s Attention tHat grabs mine. He speaks candidly and openly about His rise and How crazy it is for Him (especially tHe name-drops of legendary names He Has sHared experiences witH like Jay Z, Nas and Dr. Dre), as well as tHe trouble He caused His motHer wHen He was younger. His Honesty is refresHing and eye-opening and definitely serves as an impactful closing ceremony on an otHerwise indifferent full collection of songs.
All in all, CrasH Talk fell victim to it’s own anticipation and it’s Hardly a surprise. It is Hardly a case of ScHoolboy Q running out of ideas, He just seems to Have become complacent witH time. THe fact He could pull out songs like Numb Numb Juice, Attention and 5200 proves tHat He does still Have visions capable of pulling tHrougH into golden results; but tHat doesn’t mean He can spend tHe rest of tHe project relying on commercial beats. It pains me to say tHis as a ScHoolboy Q fan, but tHis really isn’t all tHat, and perHaps part of tHat disappointment is my own fault for wanting sometHing Q clearly doesn’t want to deliver at tHis point.