So finally we get the highly anticipated "Setbacks" album from Schoolboy Q and right away when the needle drops I'm lovin' it. "Figg Get The Money" reminded me of Black Sheep with the production and Schoolboy Q's delivery. “Kamikaze” rips in and the energy lifts a notch with the repeated loop of the horns and a more aggressive delivery from Schoolboy Q. “Light Years Ahead” features the also heavily hyped Kendrick Lamar so my expectations were set pretty high, bit it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. To be honest it reminded a lot of a Kanye West song primarily because of the hook. Then at the 1:45 mark the energy lifts off and the second half of the song wins me over. The record is cool, but the hook reminded me too much of some Kanye West vibe and I’m done with that. Then we quit fuckin’ around and the Jay Rock collabo “What’s The Word” drops in and I immediately have my favorite (at least to this point). “What’s The Word” is lead single material easily.
“I Bet I Got Sum Weed” has been my favorite Schoolboy Q track since the first day I heard it. It has that mellow flash of Isaac Hayes funk that just makes you want to lean back and blow trees. Without a doubt “Bet I Got Sum Weed” is easily one of the highlights of the album. This breaks all of my normal complaints about songs lasting longer than 4 minutes…I could lay back and leave this one song on repeat all night long. “Druggies Wit H*es” featuring fellow label mate Ab-Soul is a perfect follow up to continue the vibe, but with a little more energy. Again, another highlight of the album. “Cycle” has a throwback flava with the breakbeat looped up under the record. Something about Schoolboy Q’s delivery and voice or maybe his cadence keeps reminding me of Black Sheep, but I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is that keeps drawing me back to Black Sheep. Regardless, this is easily as dope as any Black Sheep album.
“To The Beat” sounds like it is a reference track for a future Drake song. The production and Schoolboy Q’s delivery both had me thinking that Drake was going to jump in with a verse at any moment. Don’t push the needle over though as the energy again picks up as the song builds. Schoolboy Q is definitely a master at building a song with energy and intensity as it advances from verse to verse. “Crazy” brings in a whole new vibe of funk with a guitar riff looped up and an aggressive lean to the lyrical delivery.
When Phenomenal” first jumps in and the voice of Alori Joh belts out the hook I was hooked right away. Alori Joh is a perfect fit for the album and brings a whole new energy to the album. Perfect placement too, with the song falling right in the middle of the track listing. “Situations” is just fly as shit! You might imagine Snoop Dogg when you peep the flavor of the track, but Schoolboy Q owns this track and easily makes “Situations” a highlight of the album. “Fantasy” is another record that is cool until you hear Jhene Aiko’s smooth voice drift over the hook and it’s a wrap! ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT OF THE ALBUM!
“Light Years Ahead” was the first song that I wasn’t really felling, then “I’m Good” fell into the same category. The song is highlighted by the vocals of the features when they slide in singing, but not enough to sway my opinion of the song.
“Birds and Bees” has that dope bounce to it that will snatch you in immediately, especially when the lyrical cadence rides the bounce perfectly. The only thing I didn’t like was the deal loop set as the hook. That made it feel incomplete. That fits me fine as a DJ because I will just chop in material to fill the hooks and customize the song as a special Hitman mix. “Rolling Stone” should have just been left off the album altogether simply because that sample/instrumental has been played out recently.
So bottom line – the album is fifteen tracks deep and I like 12 of the 15. That makes this the best album to jump off 2011 hands down. Schoolboy Q and TDE definitely constructed an excellent foundation to build upon for the rest of the year and set the bar high right off the bat.
Get connected with Schoolboy Q on twitter @ScHoolBoyQ and be sure to visit Top Dawg Music for all the TDE you can stand.