Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
It occurs to me almost every single time I listen to true autobiographical hip-hop - the kind that leaves out all the shootings and most of the over-the-top cockiness. It's a thought, or a tendency to think it, that doesn't hold too much water, but it strikes me as valid nonetheless. Even with plenty of rough and tumble problems to sift through, these pieces of writing and notations on a life feel like they come out of a little slice of heaven. They seem to have looked out at the ways that other people have lived and decided to cut out as much of the bullshit as was physically possible. These feel like simpler lives, ones that could be slept through. They are lives that, while still largely unfortunate and difficult, refuse to absorb the punishment that comes in its daily doses. They simply ignore that which most people fret over and instead rely on the hours to just get out-of-hand, to just fry themselves into a pleasant stupor. They're here and then they're gone and it's at that point that everyone finds a warm place to sleep or someone warm to sleep with and they shut it all out for as many hours as they'd like. It's a life that is infatuated with the mechanisms for drowning out all of the sound and the static, for pretending that there's nothing pressing to worry about, nothing long-term to worry about - just sex, weed and beer to consume oneself with, forever and ever amen.
The backpack rap, or whatever you'd like to call it, of Los Angeles' ScHoolBoy Q - part of the Black Hippy crew that includes Kendrick Lamar, is the kind of earnest, pulling no punches stuff that never messes around. Q, or Quincy Matthew Hanley, has priorities that include his daughter, weed, brews and anything that derives from his favorite pastime of anything sex-related. It's the beginning and it's the end - the blunt notes on blunts and blow jobs. He tells us, "Life for me is just weed and brews," settling into a truly believable, predictable and still wholly enthralling life of surplus living, of indulgent tendencies that can't really be all that bad. He raps, "If I fucked her once then I can fuck her twice/Yeah, you heard me right/I might fuck tonight/If I fucked her once then I could change your life/If I fucked her twice then I might change your life/If I change your life I might get my weed." You cheer for these kinds of dudes. It's good work if you can get it.