Not all second bananas are sidekicks. Take Schoolboy Q, the Los Angeles rapper and longtime running mate of Kendrick Lamar, one of hip-hop's ascendant stars. The two share a label, Top Dawg Entertainment, and they recently shared the cover of Billboard. Without a doubt, though, the stronger wind belongs to Mr. Lamar, an inventive stylist and mercurial personality loved by purists and progressives.
But this week, at least, the second banana is in first place: Schoolboy Q's major-label debut album "Oxymoron" (TDE/Interscope), just made its premiere at the top of the Billboard album chart, a testament to the potency of his following, to Top Dawg's loyal base and of the power of Mr. Lamar's long tail.
For better or worse, though - and possibly not by design - the stage was all Schoolboy Q's at Review Theater on Tuesday night.
"Oxymoron" isn't nearly the Homeric epic that Mr. Lamar's lauded 2012 major-label debut "good kid, m.A.A.d. city" was. Unlike Mr. Lamar, whose pleasures all come coated in medicine, Schoolboy Q is a hip-hop Everyman preoccupied with easy vices, making "Oxymoron" very blunt fun. Schoolboy Q has a raspy voice, a woozy attitude and an ear for beats full of clatter and bleep. Occasionally, he tells moving stories, but he's more co-conspirator than raconteur.
That he and Mr. Lamar can coexist on the same label underscores that as a unit, Top Dawg is less like a Bad Boy or Death Row than a Dungeon Family or Native Tongues, a crew that's broad enough in aesthetic to accommodate the teacher, the eccentric, the dropout, the class clown and more. That was clear, too, from the opening set of the recent signee Isaiah Rashad, whose new "Cilvia Demo" takes Mr. Lamar's wordiness and matches it with relaxed production redolent of the early-mid-1990s and a faithful student's grasp of Southern hip-hop history.
But where Mr. Rashad was serious, Schoolboy Q was amped. He opened the show with bursts of energy, speeding through songs from "Oxymoron" and from his two previous albums, "Setbacks" and "Habits & Contradictions." "Hands on the Wheel," "What They Want," "Druggys Wit Hoes" - they were all zippy and entertaining.
But after not that long, Schoolboy Q's energy began to flag noticeably. For a while, he did the live concert version of twiddling his thumbs: He took requests. He was waiting for a guest to show up, he said, but that person appeared to have made other plans.
Schoolboy Q began to look fatigued. By this point, he had stretched a half-hour of charm out to more than an hour, and though that time included the infectious hit "Collard Greens," the air in the room was beginning to feel heavy, as he kept waiting for "the homie" to show up. Presumably it was Mr. Lamar; he never explicitly said so. (He did bring out one guest, though: Styles P of the Lox, a simpatico choice given that he, too, is the Everyman No. 2 in that crew.)
After a while, though, Schoolboy Q seemed to accept the fate that the rest of the show was his for the completing, and his fervor briefly returned, especially on "Yay Yay."
But then he sulked again. "I guess this is the part where I stage dive," he said, with resignation, before his last song. And then the swells of "Man of the Year" came over the speakers, and Schoolboy Q jumped into the arms of his fans, who held him up high.