BLUE LIPS by ScHoolboy Q | Album Review

The West Coast rapper returns with his heavy-hitting sixth studio album

Mark Chinapen
Modern Music Analysis

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Listen to BLUE LIPS: Apple Music | Spotify

I couldn’t tell you the sheer amount of joy I had when ScHoolboy Q announced back in February that he was dropping a new album. I thought I was dreaming at first, the rollout was not some mysterious affair as Q dropped a few singles and promo videos in the weeks prior. The release date and tracklist were confirmed in advance, and unlike some artists, the album dropped on its release date as intended!

As one of the notable names from Top Dawg Entertainment, Q’s knack for grimy raps, wordplay, and eccentric production always made him stand out amongst his partners like Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. Stories of hood tales and drugs made his 2014 studio debut Oxymoron such an iconic album. Meanwhile, the cinematic Blank Face LP and the underrated (and underappreciated) CrasH Talk explored more of Q’s life and showcased his abilities as a wordsmith to the nth degree.

In the 5 years since his last album, Q returns with BLUE LIPS, and he’s packing quite the punch this time. Bringing his A-game in terms of production and lyricism, BLUE LIPS offers up the same top-tier quality one can expect from ScHoolboy Q. Making for one of this decade’s best rap albums so far, and a project that was well worth the wait.

Putting it bluntly, I haven’t heard a rap album produced this well since The Forever Story. An eclectic blend of heavy-hitting bangers and soulful, rhythmic tunes permeate BLUE LIPS. For every mosh-inducing “Yeern 101”, there’s a laidback equivalent like “Cooties”. Often most tracks will blend both of these styles such as “oHio”, the DnB-influenced “Foux”, or the Saw sampling “THank god 4 me”. Deviating expectations and shaking things up immensely. It’s great as we can hear Q practically demolish these beats and switch his flow up seamlessly.

Performance-wise, Q is an unstoppable force and I think he’s perfected his sound here on BLUE LIPS. On the album’s darker tracks, his voice is grimy and sinister. Take his villainous delivery on “Pop” for example, it perfectly fits the song’s evil tone. On the lighthearted songs, Q has a calming demeanor, songs like “Nunu” are made more euphoric with Q’s relaxed tone and singing.

The guest list here is also full of some sound choices. Not as star-studded as CrasH Talk, but many noteworthy names that fit perfectly on BLUE LIPS. Rico Nasty brings her visceral nature to “Pop”, and producer Devin Malik pulls through on the vibey “Back n Love”. Meanwhile, Jozzy’s soothing vocals help elevate the vibrant production of “Lost Times”. Fellow wordsmiths Freddie Gibbs and TDE cohort Ab-Soul shine on “oHio” and “Foux” respectively. The latter is the fourth entry in Q and Soul’s “Druggy n Hoes” collabs that will surely please long-time TDE fans.

ScHoolboy Q pairs the album’s excellent production and guest spots with a handful of bars that showcase his penmanship to the fullest. If he’s not painting a picture of how dangerous he can get whether it be his opps on “Pop”: (“I’m snatching niggas wave caps off, gang tats off, fuck yo’ set, hat get soakеd.”) Or the police like on “Pig feet”, Q’s coming through with foreboding streams of consciousness. Such is the case with “Blueslides”. With a nod to the late great Mac Miller, he spends his time reflecting on his purpose, his life, and the culture as a whole. (“Man I gotta shake this shit, wake up and move with a purpose. Been in prison in my own house, I don’t know if they noticed.”).

Of course, you also get his musings of flexing his love for the rap game, like on the eloquently titled “Back n Love”, or his love for his fan's excitement on “Nunu”. All of this gets wrapped up in the upbeat, Pharrell-inspired “Smile”, where Q revels in his accomplishments so far, smiling at everything around him. Whether it be friends, haters, etc. He’s at his happiest.

Overall, ScHoolboy Q’s return to rap with BLUE LIPS was well-deserved, Coming back with an album full of amazing production that showcases the best qualities of Q’s music. A guest list that works nicely with their respective tracks, and a series of notable bars and performances that I’ll be thinking about for as long as the year goes on. Safe to say, this is an excellent album from the TDE rapper.

I’m giving BLUE LIPS a very solid 9.5/10 out of 10. This is everything I could’ve wanted from a ScHoolboy Q album. He hasn’t missed with any of his releases in the last 10 years, and BLUE LIPS is certainly no exception. I’m going on record by saying this will be one of the best rap albums of the year hands down, and one of the best rap albums of this decade, bar none.

Final Rating: 9.5/10 out of 10

Favourite Tracks: Pop, THank god 4 me, Blueslides, Yeern 101, Cooties, oHio, Foux, Back n Love, Lost Times, Pig Feet, Smile.

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Mark Chinapen
Modern Music Analysis

I like to pretend I’m a critic. Writer and editor for Modern Music Analysis