Habits & Contradictions was one of the best rap albums of last year, and its replay value hasn’t diminished at all in the twenty-one months since it came out. This is all the more impressive since high-concept introspective songs are almost entirely absent on the album. Unlike fellow Black Hippies Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul, Q doesn’t have much interest in making those kinds of songs. He’s gone on record saying that he only made “Blessed” to keep listeners from thinking that he only rapped about parties and drugs and guns and stealing your girl and being cooler than you. It’s a great song, but it’s far from the best on the album because it finds him straying from his greatest strengths, which are rapping about all of the things I just listed.
With “Banger (MOSHPIT),” the second single from the delayed (due to sample clearance issues) Oxymoron, Schoolboy Q is rapping about basically nothing. The hook is a bunch of boom shaka lakas and shouts of “Figg side!” while the verses aren’t really about anything. But all of this nothing amounts to an enjoyable and compulsively listenable song because Q is one of the best rappers at turning nothing into compelling fodder for songwriting (all due respect to Wale circa 2008). It certainly helps that he’s a great rapper with ever-shifting chameleonic flow and cadence.
I’m not sure that a bunch of songs like this will be able to top good kid, m.A.A.d. city, but it doesn’t need to. Q needs to make a great album that represents who he is, and while “Banger (MOSHPIT)” is far from one of his best songs, it at least shows that he’s not changing who he is as an artist at all now that he’s on a major label.