Schoolboy Q hails from a West Coast weed-rap crew called Black Hippy, but you won't see him on the corner rocking a Dashiki. The ex-Crip's pusherman realism is emotionally hard and murky, and his tracks are dense and dark-tinted, more Wu-steeped trip-hop than Cali-funk. On "My Homie" an old friend's snitching makes for hurt feelings; on "How We Feeling" tea-kettle keyboard whir and a bruising slow-mo beat render a playa anthem at once majestic and haunted; and "There He Go" is an image of a Stringer Bell-like dude who transcends the need to floss: "Ain't got on no jewelry on, still I'm shinin' hard / Ain't got no bodyguard walkin' solo through the mall." The 'Boy is his own man.
Listen to "There He Go":
• Photos: Random Notes