ScHoolboy Q, aka Groovy Tony, Is a Man of the People
Photos by Marco Torres
July 17, 2016
Outside of Warehouse Live Sunday night, girls were crying. Not because they were stuck in a line that wrapped down the block and stretched far beyond the venue. Not because they couldn’t find their friends or were caught up in the social-media downfall and exposure of Taylor Swift. They were crying because they thought they would miss ScHoolboy Q.
“I spent my graduation money on this!”, one girl exclaimed, choking back tears with awkwardness to match. People around her couldn’t console her or weren’t even considering it. They wanted inside Warehouse too, irregardless of who may or may not have joined them. Eventually the girl got in and slid her way through the mass of teenagers, twentysomethings and Coachella rejects.
Whatever show they got on Sunday night was purely on the whim of one ScHoolboy Q, the Top Dawg Entertainment tough guy who has positioned himself firmly as a 1A in the TDE hierarchy. Hand-picking some of his favorite cities to perform in, Q decided that the Groovy Tony Pit Stop was a salute to the fans who were diehards. The people who knew Habits & Contradictions front to back; felt like “Blessed” picked them up from a low moment or kicked around a bunch of drinks and drugs to drown some internal shit out. Q’s demeanor as a calm leader of rage has been evident as long as anyone can remember. But, his certifications and bona fides have only increased as time has progressed.
It’s a rare sight to see Scarface play ring announcer before a big fight, but that’s exactly what occurred. Facemob sauntered past the curtains to a thunderous roar before asking the crowd, “Y’all ready for ScHoolboy Q?” The crowd responded with the same rousing cheer. Then in a blaze of red and flashing strobe lights, Q appeared with his glasses and bucket hat, yelling the opening lyrics to “Gangsta” as if they were a call to arms.
Q, much like Kendrick Lamar, remembered his first show at Warehouse Live. He was in the Green Room, surrounded by 200 people ardent fans who had subscribed to what he delivered on wax. Sunday, 1,500 more people found themselves inside the Ballroom, yelling “By Any Means” and performing it as if it were their song.
“Let me take my chains off 'cause this shit gonna be wild tonight,” Q said before “By Any Means." He checked the temperature of the crowd and obliged their rowdiness with a flurry of his more high-energy material. “Hands On the Wheel” begot “Collard Greens” with the fans and Q chipping in on K. Dot’s verse. Then just for kicks, he asked his DJ to play “mAAd city” to keep the crowd even more engaged. For a while, it didn’t even look like a thousand people jumping and rapping. Somehow they morphed into a faceless blob with arms stretched upward and feet that could have touched the Earth’s core if they wanted.
Despite his ascension as a rap star, Q still has some self-deprecation to him. “I lost 35 pounds and none of my clothes fit,” he laughed. “But I still got my stomach, I ain't getting no six-pack. You gotta be rich for a six-pack. That's eight hours in the gym…”
He kept reminding the crowd that the Pit Stop wasn’t the full tour experience. It’s why the stage was bare, no TDE paraphernalia, no big LED board, no openers, hell not even a setlist. They didn’t care, clamoring for one more song, one more moment to dance with Groovy Tony. Every song performed was determined by call and response. “What y’all wanna hear?” Q beckoned. They responded with loud chants of various tracks and Q threw them a curveball for the hell of it in his most radio friendly record, “Studio”.
The rest of the night volleyed between unflinching rap born from the ups and downs of life in Los Angeles (“Dope Dealer," “Tookie Knows II”) and Q favorites. “THat Part” had the crowd imagine they were Kanye West for 45 seconds; “Yay Yay” into “Man of the Year” was supposed to be the closer, but “What They Want” was determined to be the encore.
Even when Q reminded his faithful that he was done, they yelled “fuck that shit” and begged him to keep going. Yet, his Pit Stop was up. All he needed was an hour. The real show is coming in October, according to him.
And these same people will be lined up, ready and willing to party with him. SET LIST
By Any Means
Hands On the Wheel
Tookie Knows II
Break The Bank
Man of the Year
What They Want