Those are the first four words Schoolboy Q speaks on his album Habits & Contradictions, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this Saturday, and they could not be more fitting. The 17-track album is an engaging, energetic, sometimes angry but always honest exercise in that exact type of juxtaposition. On Habits, Q is constantly hopping between what the two deities on his shoulder whisper into his ears as he rolls through life, molding those experiences into a modern-day masterpiece that, five years after its release, finally deserves to be called exactly what it is: A classic.
For years Q has existed just like one of those deities; as the angry, rambunctious, brutal and often unapologetic devil on rap’s shoulder besides the angelic, conscious and more measured Kendrick Lamar. That divergence has allowed Q to forge his own identity and lane next to the supernova and wunderkind that has become TDE’s flagship star. Whereas Kendrick was gang affiliated because of his neighborhood and friends, Q was an active member, while Kendrick spent songs reflecting on strife, Q spent tracks banging, bragging about it, having the time of his life and seething for the opportunity to do it again. Q discussed their personality clash and yin/yang relationship in an interview with OnSmash a week before the album’s release in 2012. “We’re completely the opposite,” he said. “I’m Kendrick’s bad side. Kendrick’s my good side. I’m the bad version of Kendrick and Kendrick is the good version of Q.”
Kendrick offers a cautionary tale while Q is crip-walking on Crip anthems dedicated to Tookie Williams. If YG was the Doughboy to Kendrick’s Tre, Q always felt like the O-Dog to Kenny’s Cain, Kendrick was around it, Q did it. In many ways, Habits is the culmination of those conflicting experiences, as Q raps his way through both, and how he’s often tugged in each direction only to settle into his more comfortable habits despite his mental contradictions.