January 30, 2023

Ab Soul’s final album, Do What Thou Will dropped in 2016. In the true world, six years is a very long time, particularly contemplating these six years. However in hip-hop, six years typically looks like 15. The sport modifications so often that questions on Ab’s emcee standing aren’t out of bounds. Herbert, his newest providing, has plenty of stress on its metaphorical shoulders because it represents a post-Kendrick Lamar period for Prime Dawg Leisure (TDE). It hurts to lose your finest rapper, however one imagines it looks like a thousand beestings abruptly when mentioned rapper is without doubt one of the biggest of all time.

Fortunately for the TDE, and extra importantly for Ab-Soul, Herbert (out Friday, December sixteenth) exhibits he’s greater than able to placing the document label on his again and chiseling his identify in hip-hop’s higher echelon. Placing it merely, Herbert reminds everybody that in terms of rapping, Ab-Soul is a downside.

The album begins with a loving voicemail from Ab’s grandmother, which performs into the album’s concentrate on the person behind the rap identify: Herbert Anthony Stevens IV. Ab’s vulnerability as an emcee works to his favor right here, as he combines his insightfulness with extremely intelligent wordplay. “Getting loaded to the purpose I ain’t controlling myself/ Couple grams and I’m on the Gram trolling myself/ Like, come up with your self, gotta recover from myself/ This message in a bottle ain’t gon’ open itself.”

And that’s simply the opening observe. Making astute self-observations whereas sustaining that poetic edge isn’t as simple as Ab makes it sound on “Message in a Bottle” or any of the next 17 tracks. Ab talks about failed relationships, self-doubt, desires fulfilled, desires deferred, his internal battle with faith, California metropolis streets, and he even admonishes different rappers whereas conserving his expertise on the forefront.

Some want simplicity of their rap music, plain talking, and easy cadences over poetic license and units. However that’s not Ab’s modus operandi. Even on biographical tracks like “Hollandaise” the place he remembers what it felt like doing freestyles in Blackplanet chatrooms (to children studying this: ask your dad and mom or older siblings), he by no means makes it simple on the listener. Does which have potential drawbacks? In fact. Ab acknowledges these potential pitfalls on “Moonshot”: “I embellish my feelings in metaphors/ Inform tales with allegories so on, so forth/ However who provides a shit? The long-lost lyricist/ N****s acquired wealthy talkin’ nonsense, get yours.”

“Get yours.” Anybody involved with Ab-Soul’s achievement as a rapper or as a person, look no additional than these two phrases. They carry plenty of weight all through the album. Herbert finds the rapper so comfy in his personal pores and skin that he replaces rapping with Auto-Tuned crooning on “Constructive Vibes Solely.” It’s the one detour on an album created for bar fiends, and it’s undoubtedly a danger. It’s not Ab’s first time experimenting, so whereas it’s not misplaced for him, it stands out like Batman working throughout a dock whereas holding a large bomb.

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