In the three years following the release of Blank Face, ScHoolboy Q was quiet. However, he had a lot going for him. He was predominantly featured on The Championship Tour by TDE, in which his entire label toured the country and put on an afternoon-long show similar to a summer festival. He supposedly wrote and completed three albums in that time, but felt that none were up to snuff. He picked up golf (if you haven’t seen the photos yet, they’re wonderful). Most notably, however, he had to cope with the death of his dear friend Mac Miller, who tragically passed away in September 2018. With all this in mind, it is clear that Q had a lot to reckon with, and he deserved to take his time with his album — if he even wanted to release one at all.

On April 26, CrasH Talk arrived. Lead single “Numb Numb Juice” was an absolute success when it dropped, but listeners were concerned with its length and its departure from Q’s typical off-the-wall sound. It was more trap influenced than his previous work, and fans were skeptical. Despite this, they were far more skeptical upon the release of the Travis Scott-assisted “CHopstix,” a clear bid from Q to land himself a radio hit. It’s highlighted by a bland, uninspired Travis Scott hook and is supported by a couple nice — not great, but nice — verses from Q. The bid might have worked, too: At the time of writing, “Chopstix” sits at 22.3 million plays on Spotify, but there is little praise for the track. Based on the singles, Q was predisposed to face some adversity with CrasH Talk.

However, it’s clear that CrasH Talk was the album Q wanted to make. Upon the album’s release, he tweeted “THis tHe Happiest I eva been wit a album dropping… tHank y’all soo mucH… positive vibes today… literally smiling ear 2 ear… until tHe next cHapter.” On CrasH Talk, there are some vintage Q moments where he spins earnest stories from his life and from the lives of the people in his community. He crafts stories with songs like “Tales” and “Attention.” He makes bangers like “5200,” “Floating” featuring 21 Savage and “Water” featuring Lil Baby. He puts together slower, more brooding songs like “Drunk” featuring 6lack. Across most songs, though, Q explores his introspective side.

Take “Dangerous,” for example. On the Kid Cudi-assisted track, Q reflects on the lifestyle of rappers and all its detriments. He even reflects on his own death, at one point rapping, “Took this pill and it swallowed me whole / Pinch me on the arm, is it Heaven or fun? / If I don’t come back, had a hell of a run.” Given the death surrounding him, especially the loss of Mac Miller and Nipsey Hussle, these sentiments make sense. It’s easy for any given day to be your last, and you cannot control it. On “Attention,” a story of sorts revolving around Q’s life, he quanders, “Let me tell you ‘bout this story, when Quincey died…” and “Just imagine Joy (Q’s daughter) hopes if I died next mornin’ / Just imagine some of these rappers that ain’t have Q.” All over CrasH Talk, ScHoolboy Q is obsessed with death, and it makes sense.

CrasH Talk is the exact album Q wanted to make, not only because he can be himself, but also because he can grieve. He can reflect on the pain surrounding his life all while still appreciating what this life has given him. CrasH Talk is ScHoolboy Q’s own conversation wrestling with the highs and lows of his life and what might happen if (or when) his life’s ride eventually does crash.

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