As Top Dawg Entertainment takes off with much speed, Cali emcee Ab Soul has much to be thankful for. As a member of the hip hop crew Black Hippy alongside Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock, he is deservedly accruing recognition and respect in the game for his rapping talents and exceptional songwriting abilities. The bulk of Ab Soul's individual momentum started to be gained upon the release of his debut, 2011's Longterm Mentality. That album was of course followed by 2012's Control System and saw Ab Soul adding his unique piece to the Black Hippy/TDE/hip hop puzzle. A year passed and in 2014, along came These Days... by Ab Soul. It is an album dedicated to his monumental rise, his fun side, and most of all, his original style of lyrical delivery. The tone is mellow but his writing and the rapped execution of them are highly fascinating. Cuts like "Twact" and "Sapiosexual" are the light, fun parts of the LP, but they are simply the appetizers to the main course. The main events are the creative points like "Tree Of Life," an analogy of money as the "vegetation" of life's journey, and the twenty-three minute, final track opus, which contains the powerful "WROH" and a myriad of clever freestyle rhymes spit off the dome by Ab Soul himself. The list of guest features (including the full Black Hippy cast) is a good cross section of the modern rap/r&b landscape, and the production, which is also very modern, is original enough to be very notable. Ab Soul is still philosophical and reflective, but the greatest strength of These Days... is his nice rhyming. Looking to convert believers, he is here to proclaim his giant status in hip hop even if the effort is not singlehandedly his alone.
June 25, 2014