Not a day goes past that I don’t think about Ab-Soul being one of, if not the most underrated rapper in the Rap game, right now.
He is signed to the powerhouse of a label, TDE, which is home to the rest of the Black Hippy’s, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and ScHoolBoy Q. As well as R&B mistress, SZA, Isaiah Rashad and Lance Skiiiwalker.
Before Ab-Soul released his best project to date, filled with comparing governments to terrorists, religion, empowering oneself through psychedelic drugs and demanding appreciation for his intellect, Ab released three projects all under the name ‘Longterm‘.
However, his 2012 album, ‘Control System‘ couldn’t have been any better and shouldn’t be missed by an Hip-Hop fan; whatever preference of the genre you have.From the start with ‘Soulo Ho3‘ featuring Ab’s closest friend and partner Alori Joh, Ab shows off his lyrical capability as well as how much he is invested into dominating a rap game predominately focused around who has more money, wasteless beefing and a lack of lyricism. It is safe to say that Ab-Soul may not have the media and commercial attention his label partners, ScHoolBoy Q and Kendrick Lamar have, but does he have the same potential to garner that success? No. However, is he a better lyricist/rapper? In my opinion; yes.
“I stopped praying, and I started planning,
I stopped playing, and I made it happen
We mapped it out, and now the map is ours” – Ab-Soul
In these bars extracted from the ‘Soulo Ho3’, Ab is declaring his motives of snatching the rap game and how him and the rest of the Black Hippy collective have all independently (before signing a major deal), came into the industry and how they put themselves out there without the help of a commercialist and back-stabbing industry.
As the tracklist continues and Soulo (HOE!) provides aggressive tracks such as ‘Track Two‘ which Ab calls out anyone to test him and his lyrical competence (I wouldn’t), it is fair to say, only two tracks in and Ab has probably released a better album than the majority of rap albums that came out that year.
Standouts on the album include the nocturnal ‘Terrorist Threats‘ featuring R&B singer, Jhene Aiko and Detroit’s Danny Brown. Not only do the two talk about how drugs, violence and other dehumanising interventions can ruin and destroy an individuals life, but also affluent areas can be affected by these connotations.
“Peep the concept
You’ve got progress, you’ve got congress
We protest in hopes they confess
Just proceed on your conquest” – Ab-Soul
“Got a nigga stressed, depressed
Got a feeling in his chest and the world’s stripped of happiness” – Danny Brown
Moving on, another lyrically visual track is ‘Pineal Gland‘, a track that is just bars on top of bars on top of more bars. Ab really pushes the boundaries of what makes a lyricist on this track as he makes references to drug-use, gang culture and trying to see the truth of situations. As well as this track, which definitely should have had a music video or some sort of visual treatment is the club-like banger ‘Mixed Emotions‘. The beat is chilled with floating synths, thumping drum toms and a unforgettable lines from the GOAT.
“They ask me what I like to drink and I say I’m alright
Then all you see is my purple sprite, glistening off of the strobe light
No jolly ranchers please, this Ac’ is all I need
I hope it ain’t cliché to shoot Pimp C a RIP
As well as DJ Screw since I made up this tune about lean” – Ab Soul
Towards the end of the track, we’re also blessed by uncredited BJ the Chicago Kid vocals that shoutout Ab “loves the po'”.
ScHoolBoy Q also makes an incredible guest appearance on ‘SOPA‘, which is one of the heavier tracks on the album, but as the previous tracks depict, it is not one to miss out as both Black Hippies go for a verse each before going back and forth for a pretty LiT back-and-forth outro.
The main and most important track on this album has to be Ab’s 5 minute autobiography ‘The Book of Soul‘. Not only does the rapper compare his life to the story of Job, but also uses it to dedicate his love and overall project to his ex/deceased partner, Alori Joh. The track is filled jazzy drums, beautiful keys and heartbreaking lyrics. There’s not a time when I’m not listening to the song and I actually feel something for the man. This song alone tops the majority of rap songs released between 2012 and now.
“So now I’m so doped up, I think I’m flyin’
I hope the spliff will never finish
I guess the Mayans wasn’t lyin’
2012, my world ended
You used to say that I could see the future
You was wrong, cause you was in it” – Ab-Soul
It is safe to say (in my opinion) that Ab-Soul’s first major studio LP really shows off his talent as a lyrical champ and deserves more recognition than more of the rappers out today. Not saying I’m not a fan of them, but give the people who really shine the light they deserve.