THIS WEEK IN MUSIC: TDE Stars SZA and Schoolboy Q

By: Nombuso Nkambule (@hrh_nombuso) and The Unconquerable VZA (@VG_The_Boss)

Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) is dominating the US West Coast: The Unconquerable VZA and Nombuso Nkambule link up their musical reviews on ‘new girl on the block’, SZA and ‘Man of The Year’, Schoolboy Q, to find out why and how.

SZA Photo Credit: Alessio Boni
Photo Credit: Alessio Boni

By: Nombuso Nkambule (@hrh_nombuso)


Some music available on SZA for free download and on iTunes for download

Born Solana Rowe, SZA is a 23 year old free spirit from the US East coast who is fast making waves by proving herself as an eccentric songwriter with the vocals to back it. She recently became the first female artist signed to American indie record label, Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). For the ‘heads’, this is the same West Coast record label that Black Hippy members, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock are currently signed to. Her music can loosely be described as alternative R&B and each of her three EP’s is smoothly packed with neo-soul vocals over a wide range of sometimes soul and sometimes pop-electro beats. The recreation of R&B collections from the early 2000s in her music ensures head-bobbing enjoyment from Badu-believers and students of Lauryn Hill, all the way through to the new girls kicking it to Kilo Kish and Solange Knowles. SZA first debuted See.SZA.Run in 2012 to critical acclaim and renowned recognition. Her second EP, S, was released digitally in 2013, and her third EP cleverly titled Z, was recently released digitally on 8 April 2014 and is receiving glowing reviews. Z see’s SZA collaborating with Chance the Rapper and TDE newcomer, Isaiah Rashad, whom she is reportedly forming a group with. I am very excited about this collaboration, can you say The Internet?

SZA and Isaiah Rashad
SZA and Isaiah Rashad

See.SZA.Run is of notable mention because it was her debut compilation and in my opinion, her best release. On par with the level of her TDE stable mates, her music is explorative and storytelling. Her songs about heartbreak and unnecessary boys are particularly comical. SZA’s writing style is very conversational and so her songs make for an enjoyable and relatable (sometimes a little too relatable for comfort) sing-along. Above all, her love for perfectly fitting metaphors and provocative chorus lines is what keeps me listening and thinking about the stories she sings about, and hers are stories worth sharing.


If you like SZA you might also like: Lianne La Havas (check out her Soundcloud). For the new girls, listen to Kilo Kish, you can also check out her Soundcloud for more of her sounds.


ScHoolboy Q- Oxymoron
ScHoolboy Q- Oxymoron


By: The Unconquerable VZA (@VG_The_Boss)


ARTIST: ScHoolboy Q

Available on iTunes (25 February 2014)

American West Coast rapper, Schoolboy Q,delivers Oxymoron as his third studio album. Starting out in 2008, he dropped his debut album, Setbacks, in 2011. From previous records like Habits & Contradictions, Oxymoron carries forward the momentum as an album in which Schoolboy Q tells of his experiences in gang life, selling contraband and addiction. The TDE emcee and Black Hippy member takes hardcore gangsta rap lyrics and beats to deliver what the West is best known for. With singles like Man of the Year and Collard Greens, he is able to get any varsity party pumping. Unlike many of his rivals, he is also able to paint a poetic picture as he does in tracks like Blind Threats. With collaborations from Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Tyler, The Creator, Schoolboy Q brings West Coast gangsta rap together for a new twist in an old time story.

Black Hippy Photo Credit:
Black Hippy
Photo Credit:

As someone who grew up listening to gangsta rap, I appreciate Schoolboy Q sticking to his script. He captures the imagination by exploring the LA streets through the use of gritty slang and hardcore metaphors. His sound has matured from his previous records and has allowed him to reach out to a new listenership, one that may not necessarily enjoy listening to gangsta rap but can identify with this matured sound. I believe that the album is well compiled with a perfect balance of different sounds ranging from slick and groovy to downright dark and demented. I believe that the TDE stable is one of the strongest in the hip hop industry at the moment and this album is undeniable evidence of that. I am looking forward to what he will be serving us next.


If you like this album, you may also enjoy listening to TDE’s latest signee, Isaiah Rashad, whose debut EP Cilvia Demo is making waves in the hip-hop industry.

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