Schoolboy Q’s snarling, sneering collections of gravel bitten, war-ready gangsta rap rarely come with straightforward mission statements. If there was any takeaway from his haunting, knuckleheaded raps and hypnotic, off-kilter loops it was always the sense that Q was here for a good time, not for a long time, so he fully intended to go out at high speed, with both middle fingers pointed rigidly skyward.
That was before he hit 30, though. 30 does something to your brain. Some call it growth. Some call it perspective. There’s a moment of clarity that comes with that checkpoint that allows you to look back at all the dumb stuff you’ve done with a combination of chagrin and pride, a sense that yes, those actions were immature and mortifying but dammit, you did them and you survived. It’s ironic that the young often think of the future as something that will never come even as they embody the stubborn belief in their own immortality.
At 30, everything slows down and you realize: Hey, there’s a whole lot more of this life stuff in front of me. Crash Talk is Schoolboy Q’s moment of clarity. There’s some introspection, there’s some future planning, but more than anything, the album seems to be saying, for the first time in Q’s career, that he wants to find something to say, even if he’s not completely sure what that is yet.
The most obvious example of his newfound focus is the semi-title track, “Crash,” on which Boi-1da samples Royce Da 5’9’s seminal battle rap anthem, “Boom,” slowing the beat down to a sluggish stew that allows Q’s Nipsey-esque financial advice to play meat and potatoes. “Your tax bracket ain’t impressive,” he taunts young rappers who prioritize shine over stability, “You buy a chain, but won’t buy no land / That hashtag should say, ‘Desperate.'” It’s almost like he’s G-checking his younger self, who once gang banged on every track and spent his royalty checks on weed and bling.