For a former OxyContin-dealing gang member with songs raunchy enough to make a porn star blush, Schoolboy Q sure did seem like a surprisingly nice guy during his concert Sunday night at Mill City Nights. Humble, however, he was not.
“I’m so in demand, they had to add another show,” the Los Angeles rapper rightfully bragged a few songs into his first of two sold-out shows in one night at the downtown Minneapolis nightclub. Later, he rapped, “I’m the talk of the town / Make a [woman] run her mouth.”
So where did the nice parts come in? At the beginning of his 70-minute performance, the real-life Quincy Hanley opened up with a speech thanking the 1,200 fans for pushing his first record for a major label, “Oxymoron,” to No. 1 in Billboard when it arrived last month. He got even mushier near the end of the show before his new anthem “Man of the Year,” when he talked about not being able to afford clothes for his 3-year-old daughter two years ago. “A lot of people say, ‘Hip-hop saved me,’ but y’all saved me,’” he graciously told fans.
Aw, shucks. It helped that “Oxymoron” (his third record) was one of the more wildly entertaining hip-hop albums in several years, with the heavily baked but still energetic production of his Top Dawg labelmate Kendrick Lamar and more eccentric, character-driven tunes.
In concert, Q’s set had more ebbs and flows than Snoop Dogg’s career. His songs ranged from the hyper-paced, panting-style rap songs “Hands on the Wheel” and “Druggys Wit Hoes” — both played early in the set for immediate pandemonium — to several slower, hazier kickback tracks offered mid-show, including the would-be make-out song “Studio” and self-explanatory “BetIGotSomeWeed.”
Sporting a peace-sign T-shirt and a bucket hat, the gruff-voiced star was at his best when he got the crowd dancing in the electronic-flavored new gems “Collard Greens” and “Hell of a Night.” Equally rowdy, he delivered Lamar’s “M.A.A.D. City” with the crowd filling in three-quarters of the lyrics.
By contrast, though, several of his darker, more dramatic songs also stood out and hit home, especially the personal revelations “Blessed” and “Broke the Bank” — both demonstrating just how deep a thinker the Schoolboy really can be. He still has a few things to learn, yes, but he is well on his way. He will be back near the Twin Cities this summer as one of the main-stage players at the Summer Set Music & Camping Festival (Aug. 15-17).
Q’s set was in threat of being outshone by opener Isaiah Rashad, the new dog on the Top Dawg roster, and the crew’s first Southern rapper.
The 22-year-old Tennessean was famously working at a Hardee’s last year (both rappers had quite the stories of resurrection to tell on Easter Sunday). Already on this tour, however, Rashad had a good chunk of the crowd rapping along to “Modest” and “Shot You Down,” both from his debut EP.
By next year, he also should have plenty to brag about.