TDE’s ScHoolboy Q released his fourth studio album, Blank Face back in July and, honestly, it’s one of the most intense, sooty and auspicious projects of 2016. On Blank Face, the rapper born Quincy Hanley takes listeners on an informative ride through L.A. territories claimed by both Crips and Pirus. In addition to candid descriptions of poverty, ScHoolboy also details the struggles of small-time d-boys as well as the hopelessness that invades the ghettos of Southern California.
Groovy Q’s rugged appearance and dingy style bolsters the authenticity of his, what I like to call, “struggle rap.” The Crip-turned-emcee borrows from the school of “all black hoodie rap.” In a world where damn near every rapper has moved bricks of raw, Groovy draws verbal pictures of trying to grapple with selling dimes, nickels, twenty dollar rocks and pushing Oxycontin pills to an effort to make ends meet.
Despite Groovy’s crack-house and sleeping-on-friends-couches-inspired lyrics, the 30-year-old makes it a point to weave in edifying sixteens that’ll make one say to him or herself: I need to get my sh** together. “We ain’t never had sh**. We want it now, that’s how ghetto n***as are,” Q says over the phone. “We so much in competition with other n***as that we want it now. But it doesn’t happen like that. You have to put in work.”
Still in promo mode with advertising his album with his Blank Face tour, Q linked with Heineken and Indiegogo for a crowd-funding campaign to help save Miami’s famed Marine Stadium, which sits on Biscayne Bay and seats 6,500. But here’s the deal: fans contribute to the campaign when they purchase tickets to his upcoming show in Miami by visiting Indiegogo.com.
ScHoolboy briefly chopped it up with VIBE to not only discuss performing in Miami, but the lessons learned from his crack-addicted uncle, why he thinks many ghetto kids lack hope and more.
VIBE: How’d you get involved with trying to save this stadium?
ScHoolboy Q: My manager came to me and asked me about doing a show to save this stage in Miami. I used to hear about this sh*t all of the time. He told me that they were going to shut it down. And, I was like: “Nah, I’m with it.”
Is Miami one of your favorite spots to perform?
Hell nah. It’s always super hot in Miami. Even in the venues that I do down there. They are super small and hot. But I’ve never done a show in Miami that wasn’t sold out. I can say that.
Congrats on Blank Face. That sh*t go hard. One of my favorites is when you rap: “Running from God’s creations…” For me, that’s like you telling yourself to get out of your way and allow the blessing to come.
I can feel that. But what I had in mind is actually running from human beings. God created human beings. And some people are evil, some people are good. I’m just running from it even though God created it. That’s why the song is called “Lord Have Mercy.” God gave us all this sh*t anyway. He gave us all these good and bad people, you know? Some people ain’t got mercy on you.
I refer to your music as “struggle rap.” You are are able to deliver that hopeless and day-to-day struggle that’s so prevalent in the ‘hood. When you spit: “Top told me to keep rapping/and you’ll make it one day, hopefully.” You added “hopefully” at the end. Just that one word made that bar so much more profound.
Hell yeah, you go hard for years and hours and the sh*t may work. But the thing is, the n***a gave me a chance. He opened the studio for me. Let me sleep on his couch. Sleeping on that couch went a long way. I didn’t have anywhere to go. And he said, “keep rapping until it happens.” After years of grinding, it happened for me.
I can relate. From personal experience, when you’re grinding for something that you love, the horrible situations that you were in prior to chasing a dream seem so distant.
That’s real and true. It’s strange, I don’t even remember being broke. It’s weird. I’ve been away from the street life and doing street sh*t for so long, that all that being broke and sh*t is real blurry. I feel like I’ve been this rich n***a my whole life, since I was like six-years old. But I’ve been broke ever since I came out my Momma’s womb. She was the only woman on the block who had a job and was still struggling. But you know, to be at this point in my life is because Top gave me that shot. He let me grind and let me be me.
Why is hope absent, for the most part, in the ghetto?
We happy with what we got…
Nah, I wouldn’t say we’re happy. We’re excited to get sh*t, because we ain’t never had sh*t.
It’s like we content with who we are and what we doing. We have nice cars, but we on the same block though. Your car may be better than mine, but you still living with your momma. You on the same block I’m on. We from the ghetto, man. You get a hundred dollars, that’s a lot of money. Break that $100. Now you got $92, and now you got a bunch of fives, tens, twenties and now you feel like you the man. In reality that ain’t sh*t.
How much of a role does gangbanging play in not having hope?
N***as act like it’s all about gangbanging. Look, gangbanging can stop tomorrow and the Big Homie will be like, “No, he can’t get put on and he can’t get on.” They will try to introduce the Little Homie to you like, “Hey, this the new homie from the ‘hood.” They just got finished riding, and you be like, “Nah, he ain’t from the hood.” Gangbanging can stop, but it’s the Big Homies that’s the real b***h a** n***as. N***as out here talkin ’bout they ain’t got no guidance. They got guidance, but the guidance just don’t want to give it to them.
So, what solution do you offer to this?
Play to your strengths. If you good at fighting, you been beating n***as up in the ‘hood your whole life, why don’t you go be a boxer? When n***as was rapping and you was the n***a making the beats on the tables, go try to be a producer. If you freestyling, try to rap. If you made straight A’s in school go to college, that’s your route. But we want it now.
We want it now because we need it now. The way most of us live, we understand that tomorrow isn’t promised. We need bail money just bad as we need rent money.
Yeah. True. But think about it: if you ain’t had sh*t in twenty-something years, what’s wrong with waiting a couple more years? You already ain’t had for you whole life.
You rap about your uncle, who’s a crackhead, a lot. My Uncle Herc is the same way. Despite his addiction to crack, he taught me so much about life and the streets. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from you uncle?
Not to be what he is. That’s the biggest thing I learned from him. He stresses his mom out. Hurt her. Steal from her. I seen dude do all types of crazy things that he shouldn’t have done. So I learned that more than anything. But even in that he told me a lot of things. Don’t do this, don’t do that. Gave me a lot of life skills—always pay people back. When you go back over all that stuff in your mind, he’s a crackhead. Or course he knows you need to pay people back on time. He probably got his ass whipped a couple times. But he taught me a lot of sh*t. He always told me to protect my family and take care of family first. Be the provider of your family. I always remember him telling me that. If you ain’t straight, how can your family be straight? Other than that, he was stealing my bike. He’ll tell me all that then go steal my bike and steal stuff from my momma, steal my PlayStation, steal my T.V., steal my grandma’s stuff. He give you game, but he running game, too.