CrasH­ing Around: An inter­view with ScHool­boy Q

The rapper maintains focus after drugs and death nearly knocked him off course.

ScHool­boy Q doesn’t do alarm clocks. I rarely over­sleep, I wake up at like five or six every morn­ing ready,” he says with pride. My brain is just trained to do that shit, my mom­ma taught me that from an ear­ly age.” 

It’s a whis­tle-stop morn­ing of press inter­views while Q is briefly in Lon­don, and his mood is affa­ble. Maybe it’s the mid-morn­ing joint he’s just sparked up, or maybe the 32-year-old rap­per is sim­ply at peace with him­self. Every morn­ing I get up and walk, I go to the store or some­thing, I just like the walk. That’s the only child in me, I like being by myself a lot.”

ScHool­boy Q is known for his intense, often trip­py style of gangs­ta rap. His lyri­cal con­tent has often been unflinch­ing­ly explic­it, and he earned a rep­u­ta­tion as the most antag­o­nis­tic mem­ber of the Black Hip­py col­lec­tive (with Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Ab-Soul). But Q’s per­spec­tive has matured over the years. Gone is the buck­et hat he was once syn­ony­mous for wear­ing in favour of a slight­ly sharp­er aes­thet­ic. A rein­ven­tion of sorts, although the iced-out grill and stub­ble remain the same. It’s clear that lessons have been learned. 

The lead up to this year’s CrasH Talk – Q’s fifth solo album – has been tur­bu­lent. The release date was post­poned twice, first­ly fol­low­ing the untime­ly death of close friend Mac Miller in Sep­tem­ber 2018 and, more recent­ly, out of respect to fel­low LA rap­per Nipsey Hus­sle, who was shot dead in March 2019. I was still fucked up over Mac and then Nipsey died, my team had so many things in place for the album already, so we couldn’t even push it back as far as we want­ed to,” he explains of the sec­ond delay.

The drugs give you a false sense of pow­er… You already see how rap­pers talk, and a lot of them are grown men doing weird shit – that’s the drugs.”

CrasH Talkfol­lows 2016’s Gram­my-nom­i­nat­ed Blank Face LP; and this time around the press run has been more ten­der for obvi­ous rea­sons. Q became vis­i­bly choked up in a recent inter­view with Cha­la­m­agne Tha God when asked about his close rela­tion­ship with Mac, who passed away from an acci­den­tal drug over­dose. There were things that I’ve nev­er talked about in detail like the streets, being a father and just cer­tain things I don’t talk about,” Q says, explain­ing why he broke down. Not just my grief over Mac Miller, that part just hap­pened to stand out more than anything.” 

Sub­stance abuse inspired a great deal of Q’s back cat­a­logue, from the boasts of sex and drug-fuelled par­ties, to the sad and murky tales of sell­ing the opi­oid Oxy­con­tin and his own addic­tions – which he began to bat­tle in order to become a good father to his daugh­ter Joy. These days, he’s able to reflect on past behav­iour with wis­dom. The drugs give you a false sense of pow­er,” he says. You get this nar­cis­sis­tic thing about you, every­thing already revolves around you so add drugs to that and you feel like you’re Super­man. You already see how rap­pers talk and a lot of them are grown men doing weird shit – that’s the drugs.” 

But he isn’t entire­ly remorse­ful of his wilder days. He pulls down the col­lar of his shirt to show me the FUCK LAPDtat­too strewn across his trapez­ius. He had it inked dur­ing his teens, which didn’t help his already lim­it­ed job prospects as an ex con in south cen­tral LA, but the mes­sage remains as impor­tant to him as ever. You see what hap­pens in Amer­i­ca, that shit doesn’t hap­pen every­where else, [Amer­i­can police] are just so scared of black peo­ple… Black peo­ple ain’t try­ing to do noth­ing, of course we run, what do they expect? Your job is to catch me, not kill me.” 

Now a father to two daugh­ters, ScHool­boy Q has exchanged a hedo­nis­tic lifestyle for a more tran­quil pas­time – he’s a reg­u­lar at the Cal­abasas Coun­try golf club. The process of matur­ing may have been a chal­leng­ing one at times, but today he’s com­fort­able at jug­gling his iden­ti­ties as a street rap­per and a father who’s hap­py just going home and being there”.

You got­ta set the stan­dard and be a man,” Q says. This lifestyle can be all fun and games. Every­thing goes your way, but there comes a time where you got­ta take things seriously.” 


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