Welcome to ScHoolboy Q’s melancholic trap hell

ScHoolboy Q
CrasH Talk

Top Dawg Entertainment · April 26, 2019

The album is a story. It’s got a beginning, middle and end. You need to listen to the whole thing, in order, or else you miss out.


The mask ScHoolboy Q shows the world in his latest album is one of a sad gangster.

A man living large, relaxing in hell and telling us how he got therea father, worried about his daughter, floating through lifea Crip bragging about how he made it, remembering the gang he ran with.

Released on April 26, 2019, CrasH Talk is Quincy Matthew Hanley’s fifth studio album under the moniker ScHoolboy Q. The painted cover of the album shows a hunched ScHoolboy Q with money in his clothes and a brown paper bag over his head. It’s not clear whether he’s looking out at the audience or to the ground.

This is undoubtedly a summer album, full of songs to blast in a whip with the windows down and the pavement cracked all around. The only word for the beats on this album is slick.

ScHoolboy Q clearly wants you to hear the lyrics, to listen to each of his verses, each of the features: 21 Savage, Cudi, 6LACK, Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Baby. The melancholy bass-sounds boom, leaving space in the mid and high ranges for constant lyrics and bars presented cleanly.

The hooks are catchy but never cheery. People have died to inspire this mood and you can hear it clearly.

The album is a story. It’s got a beginning, middle and end. You need to listen to the whole thing, in order, or else you miss out.

The 14-track album begins with the words “CrasH Talk Take 1.” These audio cues recur twice more to introduce the other two sections.

Take 1 has four songs. This is the machismo, the breakfast in the late afternoon. The gang shit. “Numb Numb Juice” is the shortest and hardest song on the whole project. These songs are about gunshots and aggression and conspicuous consumption. A collection of words serving up scenes from a day in the life in the car.

The second track, “Tales,” is not a straightforward banger. Here ScHoolboy Q tells the viewer what the album is. There is crooning in the bridge: “My feelings, my demons, I’m living, I’m dreaming” with ScHoolboy Q breaking in to say “I’ll tell you ‘bout it.” It’s this project in a nutshell: disconcerting beats and a story deftly told.

Next up is CrasH Talk Take 2, which has six tracks.

These songs are the weird ones. “Drunk (feat. 6LACK)” is built around a jazz piano sample, but it was relegated to the background. High hats, deep kicks and subs bring the song into the genre of trap. “Lies (feat. Ty Dolla $ign and YG)” has a great hook, although its message may not appeal to those keeping up with the MeToo movement. “5200” (pronounced fifty-two hundred) is about counting money. “Floating” is probably my personal favorite jam with rhymes from 21 Savage.

This whole section of the album is about turning up and being disconnected. The last song on Take 2 is “Dangerous (feat. Kid Cudi),” which serves as the climax of the album as a whole. With a beat and chord progression that builds in a way not too far off from EDM, the Cudi track is powerful. A tone shift, it’s dangerous like the dusk in a day full of drinking.

From there, Take 3 kicks off the last four songs. If you spent the day driving around to this music, this is when you crash. It’s ScHoolboy Q dishing about his life and his worries and his vibe.

The title track “CrasH” is in this section, though it held my attention way less than “Water (feat. Lil Baby)”. His final track “Attention,” tells the listener about how he made it. Schoolboy Q’s favorite rapper told him he’s the best. These sorts of bragging songs are usually celebratory, but this one is nothing if not brooding.

The three sections are the morning, day and night. Or it might be closer to the afternoon, the night and the dawn. The story of the project is machismo and braggadocious words followed by a wavy directionlessness followed by a plop on a couch and the wait for the other shoe to drop.

The album has a mission. ScHoolboy Q is trying to leave the audience holding a feeling, and not a pleasant one: unease, discomfort and sustained loss. It’s decidedly strange.

I highly recommend listening to the whole thing in order. No song is out of place. It’s lyrical, centralized and has dope features. The cadence is never too fast and the hooks always deliver. Everything is solid and vibes. Cohesive is the word.

I give CrasH Talk 4 stars out of 5 for really committing to being depressing.

Don’t smoke and drive, but if you do put this on. At least the local news will have something to riff on when they talk about your CrasH.

Listen to CrasH Talk:


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