Coming straight out of Black Hippy a group who’s been consigned by just about everyone who matters in the game, and has even been compared to greats like NWA, is California native Ab-Soul. With TDE, signing a joint deal with Aftermath and Interscope, the hype around Ab-Soul and his cohorts has been crazy as of late, and with the entire rap game hyping Ab and his crew up, it seems like a perfect time to capitalize on the hype and release an album.
The album starts out with “Soulo Ho3” which features crisp production and a smooth hook from Jhene Aiko, Ab’s immaculate flow really shines through here, a rapper who can flow AND is also, lyrically adequate is very hard to come by. Ab’s good ear for selecting production also shines through on the jazzy track “Bohemian Grove“, which subject matter includes women, the government and his ability to be “top notch to his fucking socks”, this track immediately stands out, with the jazzy production and soulful singing at the end it really shows how diverse Ab-Soul can really be. The very next track “Terrorist Threats” shows that Ab is more than money and hoes, he can also be very political, while toeing the line between political and the typical gangsta rhymes, this track is quite interesting, this also features 2012 XXL Freshman Danny Brown, Brown’s lyrics, voice, and flow almost perfectly compliment the beat, and bring a very different/interesting aspect to the song. Ab’s beat selection is a very essential point of this album, the production perfectly compliments his style and flow, the beats on tracks like “Peneal Gland” and the political critique of the double standards of sex in America “Double Standards“, perfectly compliment his flow and subject matter.
The way Ab-Soul easily, weaves in and out of the lane of political and the typical “gangsta rap” material, is a focal point of this album, he can express his views on the world without making his album seem like one long boring political speech. “SOPA” the 8th track featuring fellow TDE and Black Hippy cohort Schoolboy Q, is a clear representation of how he can switch his subject matter from swag to a low-key commentary on todays internet culture. The diversity in Ab’s flow and lyrics is what keeps the album interesting, so much that a typical song about sex like “Lust Demons“(Which also features Jay Rock from Black Hippy) that would be boring coming from any other artists actually manage keep interest in this album. The next track on the album is “Illuminate“, featuring another fellow Black Hippy member Kendrick Lamar, this face paced track with Kdot on the hook and a on the 3rd verse brings me to another point of praise for this album, the way Ab picks features that compliment him without watering down the album with a thousand features. Its a mistake artists make time and time again, while they see it as adding a diversity to the album it usually only waters the album down, and takes away from the shine time of the artist that the album is actually by. Tracks like “Showing Love” and “Empathy” with RnB like production continue to make this album interesting, the production while not taking away from Ab’s intensity they add a certain smoothness to his flow, which is yet another display of his diversity.
The 16th track on this album “Book Of Soul” is probably the best display of every aspect I’ve praised Ab for in this review. Its an emotional story of how he lost the love of his life and his way of dealing with it, the way Ab bare’s his feelings in this track, is the most honest display of the way he puts his heart into his music and flow. The final track on this album is “Black Lip Bastard(Remix)” a Black Hippy crew track which seems like the most fitting way to end an album like this. In conclusion, this album is one of the best so far this year, while I have a few grievances here and there, Its nothing terribly noticeably, his diversity and different mix of tracks that keep it(for the thousandth time) interesting is the heart of this album, overall, I’ll say this album is about an 8 out of 10, which is a very strong start for a new era in TDE, Black Hippy, and Ab-Soul’s future.