ScHoolboy Q’s sunny disposition on “Soccer Dad,” his latest single, will still straighten your back. When he describes himself as a “groovy ass, no face killer that love to smile,” “killer” is as palpable as “love to smile” is heartwarming. A rare solo release after roughly two and a half years of one-off collaborations, the loosie finds the TDE rapper proud and reflective of the life he’s made for himself. He meditates on the influence of his crew, emphasizes the strife he’s persevered through, and celebrates his comfortable view from the soccer field stands as a father. It’s nice to hear someone who can so vividly describe plight — someone who’s admitted to deep sadness, whose music thrives in darkness — rap with an air of optimism. “Tears on my collar, I’m perfect, it turned a new leaf,” he says near the end of the lengthy second verse that he barrels through with conviction. “Black nigga, bomb ass babies, I took a new leap/Slaughtered every goal that I put out and got a new reach.”
Earlier this year, Q was featured on an EP by producer and performer NEZ — he was the sole vocalist on the project’s “Let’s Get It.” NEZ, the beatsmith behind ScHoolboy Q’s platinum 2013 single “Man of the Year,” also got a feature from ScHoolboy Q on 2020’s clubby “Wild Youngster.” While more hip-hop than dance, the production of “Let’s Get It” is similarly upbeat, while “Soccer Dad” is something completely different. It’s definitively stately, built upon a grand horn loop and militant drums. With three years since ScHoolboy Q’s last album, “Soccer Dad” sounds like a red carpet rolling out for him ahead of a new era.