'Oxymoron' Proved That It's Okay To Stan For TDE

I hate Stans, I truly do. If you know me or of me, you know that I tend to retreat from all social media platforms whenever Beyonce so much as breathes publicly because the hive is in full swarm. Obsessing over people never really made any sense to me. The last person I can vividly remember feening for with posters, merch and memorized birthdays was Shad Gregory Moss, BKA Lil Bow Wow. I was 11 when "Take Ya Home" came out and 13 years later, I can still run it line for line, Harlem Shake and all. See how nuts that sounds?

Anyway, you can imagine how off kilter I felt when my appreciation for rap's quietly dominating super crew crept into super-fan territory. Today, if you ask me who my favorite artist is, I'll probably say matter-of-factly, "TDE." Yes, I'm well aware that this isn't a singular person, but the solid group as a whole contributes to a superb listening experience balled into one creative entity. Top Dawg knew what he was doing. 

Kendrick Lamar -- my first entry point into the Left Coast-based crew -- and his good kid, MAAD city registered to me months later than everyone else. Blame it on my deliberate avoidance of "The Bandwagon." I'd vibed with a couple Section.80 snippets from time to time and had heard Overly Dedicated, but after giving GKMC repeated listens, it forced its way onto my daily iTunes queue. Then came my unexplainable Ab-Soul adoration. I dunno. Something about him and his wild mane, introverted, visceral nature and Piscean traits charms me. That and his 2012 project Control System, which I didn't actually listen to until the tail-end of 2013, but only because I didn't know him like that yet. Trust me, I'm thoroughly pissed that I didn't. Something in me clicked when "Book of Soul" started playing. I swear I can remember my eyes watering or some super dramatic ish like that. Yeah, it was like that. Out of sheer curiosity as to who the two non-Cali breeds rolling with a clearly Cali crew were, I listened to SZA's See.SZA.Run and S and Isaiah Rashad's new Cilvia Demo. Loved 'em all, surprisingly. Jay Rock's menacing flow has always intrigued me (I can't help but snarl when I spit his feature verses) and I look forward to when his next project surfaces. 

And then there's ScHoolboy Q, the dopey-energetic hybrid of the crew, and his brilliant new LP, Oxymoron. I knew of Q before I really understood Kendrick. "There He Go" hooked me in immediately without knowing who a damn ScHoolboy and his capital H was. Then I got hip to Black Hippy and Groovy Q's role in the concept troupe. I knew his next work was going to be good. Oxymoron solidified that my closeted Standom for TDE is real and merited. 

From top to bottom, Oxy proves that storytelling isn't just a trait dwelling within K.Dot. Q took me through the highs and lows of his gangsta days (Q's daughter is cussin' on wax in the record's first 10 seconds to let you know her "daddy a gangsta"), family business and tiffs with hard drugs over dark, lush production. While his media promo run face is typically shaded and expressionless, Q's charisma comes alive and oozes over the 12+ tracks. He fools around with grunts, YAKs and alliteration over teetering drum kicks on "Collard Greens," breaks through a pill-induced haze and drags his gravelly voice across stanzas on "Prescription Drugs/Oxymoron," and runs his early but well-deserved victory lap on "Man of the Year," a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. 

During my Oxymoron binge, I discovered that Quincy Hanley is also a shape-shifter. Yes, K.Dot, 2 Chainz, Tyler, the Creator, Kurupt, Jay Rock, BJ the Chicago Kid and Raekwon all come for the assist on various album spots, but Q's ability to play chameleon and sound like Pharrell, Pusha T and Too Short on "Los Awesome," "The Purge" and "What They Want," respectfully, is what impressed me. 

I could go on and on about how the LP extracts my inner (like really, really buried) gang banger, but his live performance skills are the ones at the top of the pack. I saw Kendrick up close at Summer Jam, and the sheer fact that he was there excited me. But Q in person was a totally different energy. I went to a limited-entry, intimate performance at a hole-in-the-wall venue in Greenwich Village just a couple days after greedy hands got a hold of an Oxymoron leak link (Sorry Q, my hands were greedy). A normal person shouldn't be able to sing along with him word-for-word for material so brand spankin' new. But a TDE crowd isn't normal. A ScHoolboy Q supporter isn't normal. So there we were, filling in any word he might have missed excitedly, him feeding off our energy, telling us to turn up more than we were already turnt, bouncing and ad-libbing with the energy of a three-year-old souped up on Halloween candy.

He and his supporters are one. You can see it in his on-stage stance. Scanning the crowd for fellow style savvy hypebeasts and sartorialists rocking patterned bucket hats and circle rimmed bifocals. Listening to thunderous cult-like YAK YAK YAKs interrupt his between-song banter and smiling appreciatively. Inhaling the sweet smell of swishers and quality tree drifting in the air. Sharing blunts with squealing front row residents who literally begged to light up with him afterwards (he respectfully declined). Leading the fans in a happy birthday serenade to surprise guest Ab-Soul. Calmly walking into the center of a mosh pit as if he was parting the Red Sea, worrying only about keeping his black fedora attached to his hidden head of hair. Joining the party without fear of violation, harm or disrespect. Why worry when it's family? 

Is it crazy to say I felt like the newest member of TDE after that experience? Well, I can't help what I feel. It's hard not to eff with Q and his crew. TDE, the troupe of so many feels, has officially won me over. I'm obsessed. Addicted even. Hey, there's a fix for everybody, right?

Enjoy some footage I took from the concert and check out more photos here:


Popular posts from this blog

"Find Christ At The River"

Getting Past “Should”

Hinge-Toothed Prophets