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Schoolboy Q Believes He's Man Of The Year
Once upon a time, Quincy Hanley was seen as merely Kendrick Lamar's hype man. But the South Central Los Angeles native always saw himself as more than a sidekick. Since releasing his 2011 debut album, Setbacks, Schoolboy Q has become an integral part of Top Dawg Entertainment, the label home to GRAMMY nominee Lamar and a roster of up-and-coming hip-hop artists.
Schoolboy Q created his own lane with his 2014 major label debut album, Oxymoron. Released Feb. 25, the album depicts gritty personal accounts of drug culture and L.A. street life. Yielding the Top 40 single "Studio" featuring BJ The Chicago Kid, the album resonated with a new sector of fans, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and garnering TDE its first chart-topping album.
With international tour dates continuing into October, Schoolboy Q took a break from the road to participate in an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com, discussing why he believes Oxymoron is the best rap album of 2014, collaborating with his favorite rapper Nas, why he thinks mixtapes are a waste of his time, and who he'd like to take as his date to the GRAMMYs, among other topics.
On Sept. 10 you released "Studio (Remix)" featuring Nas, who just so happens to be your favorite rapper. How did that come about?
My manager Dave Free thought we should do a remix to the song. I said I wanted to do it but I didn't want to add any new verses to it because it would take away from the original feel of the song. It's one of those records where a new verse would make it sound out of tune. He knew Nas was my favorite rapper and he reached out to him. He said, "Nas will do it," and I was like, "For real?" It happened just like that.
Even though you and Nas have appeared on two songs, you have yet to share studio time.
Nope. But that may be because I changed my phone number. We exchanged numbers but I ended up changing my own number and lost his contact. I'm going to reach out to him and at least say, "Thank you." I mean, [he] is my favorite rapper. We talked about getting into the studio together to just vibe out. We don't even have to do a song. It's just more about feeling each other out. Sometimes it's about just feeling somebody out than jumping on a song. It brings the best out of both people when you get to know who you are working with.
Kind of like you and A$AP Rocky?
Yeah. We kicked it before we actually made music. That's where we are at right now but we're definitely going to do a record together … in an actual studio. [Laughs]
Have you ever thought about the possibility that Oxymoron could be nominated for a GRAMMY?
Have I? Hell yeah! I want to win one day. That was one of my main goals. That's like a Super Bowl ring and I want one of those before it's over. Actually, I want a couple of them. You know what I mean? I care about that more than going a million times platinum. That's cool but I want that GRAMMY. I want that trophy.
Do you feel like a GRAMMY is validation that all different types of people love your music?
Yup. That's what I'm saying! For TDE to have been nominated for everything in every [other] award show, that's great, but my big hope is going to the GRAMMYs and having my daughter as my date. I just want to do that so bad and I think I deserve to be there. Hopefully it happens.
Oxymoron was released in February. Are you surprised that people are still playing the album and you are still able to release singles?
Wait … I'm about to drop yet another single, too!
"Hell Of A Night."
You created three different versions of Oxymoron, right?
Are any of those songs you left off going to see the light of day?
Hell no! If I meant for them to be out, they'd be out already. I'll just keep putting out songs off of Oxymoron until they tell me to stop.
Would you consider doing a mixtape at this stage of your career? Maybe with the songs that didn't make the album?
Nah. I don't do mixtapes. I'd rather save that s*** for an album. You will never hear me talking about a mixtape. I think mixtapes are a waste of energy and time. Put that time into your album. I don't think everybody needs to hear every song you do. Everybody is out here letting people listen to your leftovers. Those songs didn't make the album for a reason: because they weren't good enough. That's just how I look at it. Everybody isn't going to hear everything that I do.
In hindsight, are you satisfied with the version of Oxymoron you dropped?
Hell yeah! I think it's the best album this year because of the versatility, the content, the songwriting, the storytelling, and the fact that I'm not scared to make a big record. For a person like me, a gang member from L.A. to do that and not give a f*** about what people think? I mean, baseball players are walking out to "Man Of The Year!" It's on video games and TV. Mark Wahlberg accepted an award to that song [at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards]. I can play that [at] any college and people go crazy. I'm not scared to make those records and I think my album is the best because of that. My s*** is original. I don't sound like anybody.
(Andreas Hale is a former editor at BET.com and HipHopDX.com. His work has been featured on MTV,Vibe, XXL, Jay Z's Life+Times, Black Enterprise, Ozy, and more.)