By 2016, anything associated with the Top Dawg Entertainment/Black Hippy crew was considered "highly anticipated" by the hip-hop faithful, but no one in the posse had come close to the crossover success of superstar MC Kendrick Lamar. Team member Schoolboy Q was the crown prince, although his mix of gangsta rap and left-field production had failed to make him a household name, something The Blank Face LP holds dear. This sprawling, cumbersome, and often psychedelic effort feels like a glorious clearing house for the diverse and deep rapper, offering giant, cinematic, and challenging efforts like the Anderson Paak-featuring title track and the opening epic, "Torch," then shifting gear and getting flippant with oddball throwaways like the ultra-nasty "Studio" sequel called "Overtime." "Overtime" at least goes off-the-charts, sounding as if R&B porno artist Blowfly was mimicking R. Kelly's or guest vocalist Miguel's sexy styles, and while the beat Tyler, the Creator crafts for "Big Body" could be his silliest to date, Tha Dogg Pound still act if it's prime strip club stuff, and it's as fascinating to hear as it is odd. If "By Any Means" sounds like an important anthem for a year when race relations are at a new low, it begins "You can f**k my b*tch/You can have my ho" and goes more gutter from there, and while that makes it arguably disposable compared to the proud anthem "Ride Out" or the wonderful rumination called "Kno You Wrong," this 17-track, almost-mixtape is no slog on first listen. Fully-formed stunners like the Jadakiss feature "Groovy Tony/Eddie Kane" and "Tookie Knows II" are cold-blooded classics, and even if return visits require some dropped cuts, there's an awesome, tight album hiding inside this set of tracks, a set where the B-sides sneak in. As a release born firmly in the age of streaming, playlists, and The Life of Pablo, it's a sprawling album to argue about and examine. In Schoolboy Q's discography, it's the experimental LP with an attitude, and a giant Magical Mystery Tour that will dazzle his fans.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries