Out of Carson, California comes a hip-hop artist that has overcame adversity from the time he was ten years old. That hip-hop artist is Ab-Soul, who is huge in the underground trip-hop, hip-hop scene. He also learned how to rap after listening to “Emotions” by Twista and cites Jay-Z as his major influence. After releasing four albums, Ab-Soul is continuing his ascend to the top of hip-hop royalty.
Ab-Soul fights Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which is a rare disorder that affects his vision due to extreme light sensitivity and affects his skin pigmentation on his lips. Ab-Soul has taken the challenges of being bullied from this, giving up his dreams of playing professional basketball, and taken his hatred for politics and organized religion into creating one of the most lyrically fresh, flowing from a cadence standpoint, and bringing awareness to various issues to the forefront.
In 2005, Ab-Soul signed a recording contract with StreetBeat Entertainment, and one year later, he met Punch, who was a hip-hop artist and president of Top Dawg Entertainment, and officially became a part of the Top Dawg roster in 2007. At the time, Top Dawg boasted of upcoming hip-hop artists Jay Rock and K-Dot, who is now known as Kendrick Lamar, and appeared on Jay Rock’s single “All My Life(In The Ghetto)”. In 2009, Ab-Soul formed supergroup Black Hippy, which featured Jay Rock, K-Dot, and Schoolboy Q. A couple of mixtapes were released from solo and the Black Hippy supergroup.
In 2011, Ab-Soul released his debut album entitled “Longterm Mentality”, with the debut track “Hell Yeah” featuring Schoolboy Q. People immediately began to take notice of Ab-Soul’s thought provoking lyrics, trippy beats, and witty wordplay, and his cadence. “Hell Yeah” was a track that took a pot shot at the American healthcare system. The debut album would peak at #73 on the Billboard Top Hip-Hop/R&B albums chart.
After touring with Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul would release a track entitled “Terrorist Threats”, which would also feature Danny Brown and Jhene Aiko on the track. Fans began to know the political commentary in Ab-Soul’s lyrics, which also included songs “Pineal Gland”, which talked about the psychedelic drug DMT and the effect on the pineal gland, and the song “SOPA”, which talks about the Stop Online Privacy Act. These aforementioned tracks were on Ab-Soul’s second release in 2012 entitled “Control System”. The album debuted at number 83 on the Billboard 200. Ab-Soul would tour with Black Hippy and hip-hop artist Stalley on the “Music Matters Tour”, which was sponsored by Black Entertainment Television. In 2013, Ab-Soul would be featured on XXL Magazine “Freshman Class” issue.
In 2013, Ab-Soul would release a track entitled “Christopher DRONEr”, which was his commentary in response to former LAPD officer Christopher Droner, who was killed by drones. Ab-Soul would also be a part of “The Heist” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, which the album was nominated for a Grammy for “Album of the Year”. In 2014, Ab-Soul announced via Twitter that he was releasing his third album entitled “These Days”. The album included the songs “Stigmata” and “Closure”, and the album would debut at No. 11 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart. Check out the song “Stigmata”, which featured Action Bronson and Asaad.
In 2016, Ab-Soul released his latest album “Do What Thou Wilt”, which peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard 200 chart and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hip-Hop/R&B charts. The album featured “D.R.U.G.S.” and “Huey Knew THEN” featuring Dash, which the opening line was a play-on words from the opening line to “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” sitcom. The album released mixed reviews.
Madness To Creation’s Review: The lyrics are somewhat nonsensical in Ab-Soul’s later work. I’m not sure if he’s trying to be cryptic in his thoughts, although the trip-hop beats with his hard rhymes are somewhat enjoyable. I feel that he found his niche in incorporating political commentary was where he should’ve stayed in his music, I felt there that his lyrics were more on point, whereas he seems all over the place in his wordplay and his metaphors in his later material, in particular with “Do What Thou Wilt”. I would like to see him get back to the roots where Malcolm X’s work and life was his inspiration in his writing. The trip-hop beats are on point though. He gets a 6.5/10 stars from me.
Check out Ab-Soul at the following locations: