Patience is a virtue that most hip-hop fans don’t possess, and one that they don’t really need to; it’s generally been accepted that in order to stay relevant against the seemingly endless cavalcade of face-tatted SoundCloud youngsters, an artist has to consistently flood the market with new material. This is why Drake just re-released a decade-old mixtape to streaming serves — if it gets people talking about you again, it really doesn’t matter if you’re (pretty literally, in this specific instance) just selling old ideas with a new face. While most MC’s are forced to play by these industry standards, TDE signee Schoolboy Q has been blessed with “the luxury of time” — to steal a phrase that Pusha-T, another rapper able to buck the trend, often used when promoting his latest studio album. Time has allowed Q to craft a discography with baked-in months of radio silence. But there’s a give and take relationship to this less-frequent model of distribution: fans tolerate less music from a certain artist with the understanding that said musician is actually giving a shit about the final product. Crash Talk is Q’s first album since 2016’s largely miserable Blank Face LP; the L.A. native supposedly had three years to hone his talents (those being primarily an oddball cadence and abstractly grim lyricism) and finally assemble a project worthy of the hype train that’s been building around him since 2013. But that expected equivalent exchange has not taken place; in fact, if anything, Schoolboy takes way more than he can ever hope to give on his lifeless fifth album.
Schoolboy has taken three years to construct [what] feels like a slap-dash affair, one that hops on hot trends and completely betrays whatever goodwill fans might have stored-up.
Even worse, the majority of Crash Talk’s problems come from Q himself, who sluggishly pedals his usual misogynistic antics (see: the West Coast funk of “Lies”) all across this album, and who sleepwalks through flaccid bangers like “Numb Numb Juice” and “5200.” Suffice to say, the fire usually found in Black Hippy’s most eccentric members’ delivery is supplanted here by much less impressive approaches, like an attempts at capturing icy menace (the starkly minimalist “Floating”) that comes off as monotonously dour, and stabs at radio-play that couldn’t feel more out of place on this album. In fact, one of these might be the worst song of Q’s career thus far: the Travis Scott-assisted “Chopstix,” which features an aimless Cactus Jack hazily blurting out a lazily thrown-together chorus that feels like it’s there just to pad-out Schoolboy’s icky verses about making a woman’s legs open “like chopstix.” The rapper tries to rectify his sexist ways by Crash Talk’s end, with some saccharine bars dedicated to his daughter that aim to inspire some sort of pathos (“So, girl, be proud that your skin black / And be happy, girl, that your hair napped”), and that feel completely unearned. Even more brain-flaying is Schoolboy’s assertion, on the album closing “Attention,” that Nas personally “told me that I’m the best,” because A). This encounter probably totally happened the way that Q is describing it, right? And B). That boast honestly seems laughable, considering the product Schoolboy has taken three years to construct feels like a slap-dash affair, one that hops on hot trends (Lil Baby even shows up at one point, because why not?) and completely betrays whatever goodwill fans might have stored-up for its release. So I guess we might have another young buck who’s let Nas down, huh?