By Ross Figlerski
School Boy Q, a member of Kendrick Lamar’s Black Hippy Crew, has been featured on quite a few mix-tapes over the last year and had released his first album, Set Backs, last year. Where Habits & Contradictions differs from Q’s previous releases is shown through his increased confidence, rhyme skill, and developed style. This new mix-tape is filled with moody production, full of drums and keys with an impressive use of samples ranging from Menomena to Portishead. That Q constantly changes gears throughout the album, and to a degree is rapping completely (more so, obviously) for himself, is a huge plus. However the ultimate disappointment on Habits & Contradictions is in his choice of subject matter. The non-sequiturs and adlibs fall short of saving the mix-tape from the stale narratives of drug use, sex, and street violence. The real problem with this decision is the feeling that Q is using these themes as a crutch rather than a talking point. The MC is able to successfully go after quite a few different sounds on the record. Unfortunately, he doesn’t go as far out or try as hard in his ability to diversify subject matter, although it seems obvious he has potential to. Taking all the stand-out tracks versus the fillers makes Habits & Contradictions little more than irrelevant.