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The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Review | ScHoolboy Q’s ‘BLUE LIPS’ is a worthy listen, but isn’t as impactful as his previous projects

The album is the newest project by artist ScHoolboy Q, a rap pioneer, and has been long anticipated for nearly five years since his last release.
Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY
Feb 5, 2023; Pebble Beach, California, USA; ScHoolboy Q hits his tee shot on the sixteenth hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

Ambitious projects are not always initially received well, and this may be the case for rapper ScHoolboy Q with his latest record, “BLUE LIPS.”

The artist has been a multi-faceted rapper since his inception. His first two records, “Setbacks” and “Habits & Contradictions,” immediately paved the way for his success as both a collaborator and a self-made artist. His third album release, “Oxymoron,” received unprecedented success for his mix of anthemic numbers and socially conscious tracks, solidifying his name in the rap pantheon.

After listening to his new project several times, it becomes clear that it operates on a much less conceptual level than some of ScHoolboy Q’s previous work. His album before this, “CrasH Talk,” was released in 2019. It was praised for its well-rounded sound and cohesion to the project.

With “Blue Lips,” however, the opposite can be said. Through a tremendous amount of beat switches and flow changes, with a lot of distinct sounds in each track, the album felt unfinished — an unexpected takeaway following the nearly five-year wait.

Because of the absence of this polish and lack of deep lyricism that ScHoolboy Q is usually known for, the album is somewhat difficult to immediately latch onto.

That said, there are a few tracks that still manage to stand out as special and showcase that the artist still has talent when dipping his toes into several different soundscapes.

One example of this is my favorite track, “Blueslides,” a song where breezy jazz orchestration drives home a somber emotion, paying homage to ScHoolboy Q’s close friend, the late Mac Miller, and his project “Blue Slide Park.”

Arguably, this track doesn’t experience the same loss in lyricism as some of the other songs on the project. ScHoolboy Q opens vulnerably here, rapping about losing friends to drugs, not being himself lately, and feeling like a deadbeat, all over a beautiful piano and string serenade.

This, followed up by the track “Yeern 101,” the only single off the record — a song with fat distorted bass and quick flow — suggests that the thematic bouncing around the album does is intentional.

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Other notable tracks worth listening to are “THank god 4 me” and “oHio,” both of which have unique progressions and switch-ups that manage to make them feel diverse while not being completely overdone.

The outro to the album, a one-minute track titled “Smile,” has a groovy, funky feel unlike anything heard previously. However, it ends all too quickly when ScHoolboy leaves the audience with his final words: “That’s it,” which left me yearning for more from the project.

It seems that “BLUE LIPS” is certain to grow on listeners as time goes on, especially when examining many of the tracks individually. While the album may have some lyrical absences, some songs manage to hit deep and function well on their own.

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About the Contributor
Caden Gantenbein
Caden Gantenbein, Arts Reporter
Caden Gantenbein is a screenwriting major as well as a film minor. He is a junior starting this fall and this is his first semester at the DI.