Before ScHoolBoy Q became a household name with catchy radio-firendly records like “Collard Greens”, “Man of the Year” and “Studio”, Q released his debut album ‘Setbacks’ entirely through TDE in 2011. Going back 6 years, ScHoolBoy’s content is grittier, angrier and more revolved around exposing the violent lifestyle Q witnessed while growing up.
Starting off with Jazzy keys and drums, ScHoolBoy Q opens up the album with “Figg Get Da Money” which sees him reflecting on the environment he was growing up; witnessing prostitution, gang violence, hood politics but still being conscious of his situation to keep his “daughter fat” and representing Figueroa. Another classic record on this track following up with go-to Jazz instruments yet flipping them into modern gangster-focused records alike to fellow West-Coast MC Scarface is “Kamikaze”.
Yet, there are less-friendly instrumentals on this album. “WHat’s THa Word?” featuring Jay Rock where they detail their gangster activities but producing it in a context that is not discredited. Jay Rock’s rough voice and slow but marching flow is the highlight off this track.
While there are Q’s reflective tracks on this album, “Cycle”, “I’m Good” which features smooth as silk vocals from TDE associate BJ The Chicago Kid and the Kendrick Lamar assited “Birds & The Beez”; there are also the party-records on here, which don’t disappoint at all. “To Tha Beat” and “iBETiGOTSUMWEED” are perfect for the start to a house party or the latter for a heavy smoke-session. However “Druggies Wit Hoes” featuring Ab-Soul is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Over slow keys, head-bopping hi-hats and sees Q provide one of his most creative flows and rhyme schemes to date. However, the second Soulo (HOE) starts spitting, it’s game over for Q. Soul’s energetic vocal pitch, melodic flow and graphic sexual needs trump over Q’s verse but both of their contributions created one of the most underrated pre-party records.
To conclude, it is one of the strongest projects in Q’s discography. It’s filled with less comical and more intricate lyrics than his recent releases and also shows a side of Q that his fans don’t get too see as much. However, in regards to his placement in modern Hip-Hop and TDE, he’s certainly needed as a public figure and representative of the West-Coast.