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​Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images. Photo illustration by Srikar Poruri.
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images. Photo illustration by Srikar Poruri.

Is ScHoolboy Q's 'Blue Lips' The Most Important Album of His Career?

Top Dawg Entertainment rapper ScHoolboy Q is fast approaching the release of Blue Lips, an album that could elevate him and the label following Kendrick Lamar's recent exit.

The pace and amount of rap albums that drop per year have increased drastically from the 1990s, which has helped the genre become as huge as it is. On the flip side, albums don’t really feel like major events anymore, but ScHoolboy Q, a key part of the West Coast mainstay rap label Top Dawg Entertainment (aka TDE), is changing that as we speak. With the forthcoming Blue Lips, his first album since 2019’s CrasH Talk, this is the most highly-anticipated TDE album since Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers and SZA’s SOS, both of which dropped in 2022. Both albums were runaway successes, but the makeup of the label changed drastically once Kendrick Lamar left to form PgLang with former TDE co-president Dave Free. The ball is now in Q’s court, as he is now far and away the most popular rapper in TDE.

ScHoolboy Q - Yeern 101 (Official Music Video)

TDE has entered a crossroads, with ScHoolboy Q at the forefront of it. The label still has momentum, with SZA turning into an R&B superstar, Isaiah Rashad still having a committed fanbase and Jay Rock hard at work on a follow-up to his best album yet, Redemption.

Add in multiple well-received releases from Ab-Soul and Reason and intriguing newer signees like Doechii and RayVaughn, and the sky is truly the limit.

ScHoolboy Q - Back n Love feat. Devin

Yet, ScHoolboy Q operates in a very specific space; he’s the one with platinum and gold albums and huge hit singles. In addition to that, he is one of the four core rappers instrumental to TDE’s rise, alongside Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. The reception of Blue Lips, both critically and commercially, will dictate the direction of TDE, in both how the label is perceived, and how they transition from their original lineup to their new era. Blue Lips is a major moment within the TDE story, and if Q reaches the heights of his past, TDE’s spot amongst hyper-competitive rap labels can change overnight. The following questions will ultimately be answered: “Can Q re-establish TDE’s grip on rap?” — “Is Q still rapping at peak form?”

ScHoolboy Q -

No matter how things play out, ScHoolboy Q remains a very talented rapper, a star that is the perfect mix of down-to-earth dude and high-school lunchroom funny. He’s easy to cheer for, and that’s because the music truly matters to him. Interestingly enough, Blue Lips releases 10 years after Q’s debut album, Oxymoron. He has come a long way in the last decade, both as an artist and as a person adjusting to stardom. As it stands ScHoolboy Q has never seemed happier and looser, and if the songs he’s shared from Blue Lips are any indication, he just might rise to the occasion, yet again.