Ab-Soul
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Ab-Soul

Carson, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2002 | MAJOR

Carson, CA | MAJOR
Established on Jan, 2002
Solo Hip Hop R&B

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

May
08
Ab-Soul @ Oracle Arena

Oakland, California, United States

Oakland, California, United States

May
06
Ab-Soul @ Sunlight Supply Amphitheater

Ridgefield, Washington, United States

Ridgefield, Washington, United States

May
05
Ab-Soul @ White River Amphitheater

Auburn, Washington, United States

Auburn, Washington, United States

Music

Press


After teasing with recent singles “Huey Knew” and “Braille”, Top Dawg’s Entertainment’s Ab-Soul has finally announced his fourth studio effort, and it’s coming sooner than we thought. The project is titled DWTW (rumored to stand for “Do What Thou Wilt”) and due to arrive this Friday, December 9th.

The California-born rapper revealed the news on Twitter this afternoon, along with the official album artwork (seen below). He also let loose an all-new song in “Threatening Nature”, a PakkMusicGroup-produced cut in which Soulo can be heard dropping the phrase “Do What Thou Wilt”. - Consequence of Sound


Ab-Soul is not a fan of the spotlight. As a result of a rare condition called Stevens-Johnsons syndrome, the 29-year-old rapper’s eyes are literally sensitive to light—hence his ever-present dark shades, which the rapper wears even while indoors—but Soulo has also kept out of the public eye in the two years since his sophomore album, These Days…. Now, the self-proclaimed Black Lip Bastard is back with a new album, DWTW, and he’s been running around New York all day meeting with the press.

Not that you’d think he’d been running around all day, though: when he arrives at HYPEBEAST, the California-born rapper makes his way around the office, humbly introducing himself and dapping up literally every single person on staff.

Speaking with the man born Herbert Anthony Stevens IV makes you feel like a co-conspirator, as if you’re somehow being let in on a profound secret. His reputation of ‘wokeness’ precedes him—this is the guy who wrote bangers about pineal glands and Planet X, after all—but contrary to the manic pastor on wax, he is ever-smiling and soft-spoken in person.

As he settles into a conference room to talk to HYPEBEAST about everything from his new album to his cryptic tweets, all while name-dropping Aleister Crowley, J. Cole and Shia Labeouf along the way, Soul removes his ever-present shades, if only for a moment, massaging his temples and his eyelids.So how’ve you been? How long has it been since These Days…, two years, right? What’ve you been up to in the interim?

(Deep sigh) Been showing a lotta love, man. Exchanging a lotta love. Real talk. I’ve been working on this project, Do What Thou Wilt, for a year and a half now.

We did a deep Google search and found out that the title, “Do What Thou Wilt,” is a reference to Aleister Crowley’s idea of Thelema. How did that ideology inform and influence this album?

Yeah, that is a famous quote from Mr. Crowley. To me, it translates to free will. Not necessarily “do what you wanna do”—‘cause that’s kinda chaotic—but do what you will to do. Will being stronger than a want. Something that’s supported by love and passion. That’s what that quote means to me, and you know I’m a man of quotes. That’s just one of those that resonated with me the most.

You’re a lyricist who prides themselves on wordplay. Where do you stand on this debate that has split rap between old-school purists and new-school revisionists who go against the grain? Where do you stand on that spectrum?

I’m trying to fall somewhere in the middle. I’m trying to stay in the middle and maintain my distinction. When I talk to journalists about this, I think we’re talking about radio programming, y’know what I’m saying? There’s only like five, ten songs that you hear on the radio and those songs may be a particular way. Not a lot of people in my circle listen to the radio—they choose their own music (gestures at manager and girlfriend sitting on their devices), they’re on their phones, they’re selective. I think that’s where we’re going and that’s why there’s a place for me and myself, not having a song on the radio but still having an audience and having something to say.

‘The righteous will remain righteous and the filthy will remain filthy.’

Do you find a lot of music on the Internet?

Yeah, I don’t listen to the radio. I had been running with my cousin to get my wind back up, right? And he was dropping his baby mama’s kids off at school and this was an opportunity for me to listen to the radio. I only heard like five songs—I ain’t gonna quote ‘em or name ‘em or whatever… But I’m just hearing the same songs over and over. I turn to him like, “Yo, this the same song! We on the same freeway, I just heard this. They just played this record!” So I think that’s the conversation that we’re having is about radio programming. That’s a conversation that you can’t even have with me. That’s some higher power right there—pun intended. But there’s still guys like you that wanna chop it up with me, y’know? It’s not as bad as we make it seem.

You’re very much an underground kinda guy, the sensibilities of an underground dude—

I can’t even call it the underground, man.

What would you call it? A movement?

This is a movement, man. I’ve been around. I’ve shaken a lot of hands. Where there is a will there is a way, baby. I’m doing this press run and people are excited to see me. People are asking me the questions that I want them to ask me. I’m still moving things the way that I had intended to. I’m still open to the dialogue and to these questions.

You mentioned that you’ve been working on this project for a year and a half. Did you approach this project differently or did you use a tried and true attack strategy?

I try to tackle each project like a science project, almost. I have an idea, a thesis, and I try to prove that thesis. With this concept—Do What Thou Wilt—being based off of The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley and a quote from that book: “Love is the law. Love is the only law. Love under will, the law is for all.” That’s a beautiful statement. This guy [Crowley] is the self-proclaimed wickedest man alive and he’s still living to this day in a way. People are still having that conversation to this day. His influence on music and culture is evident. That’s something to take not of, with me being a writer and a poet, I really respect a lot of the things that he contributed.

“Shout out to Shia LaBeouf… I better be on the album, that’s all I’m saying.”

Is this a concept album?

Yeah, it’s based on The Book of the Law. I make note of it, reference it throughout. Me being a fan of theology and history made the parallels between his ideology and my own. I see a lot of similarities and differences, parallels and whatnot. One of my favorite quotes in the book is “The righteous will remain righteous and the filthy will remain filthy.” Me being the righteous man—‘ain’t nothin’ wrong with a righteous man,’ that stood out to me, with him claiming to be the wickedest man alive. He’s still saying there is room for the righteous. He’s not saying ‘let’s be ill,’ he’s saying if you’re going to be ill, be ill. If you’re not going to be ill, do your own thing.

You went to your friends and homies to put this one together?

Yeah, you know I work with the same circle of collaborators and producers—Tae Beast, Sounwave, Dave Free and Willie B, Tommy Black. This time around I started my own production company, the PakkMusicGroup, so this’ll be a great introduction for them. Wondagurl is on there, she blessed me. DJ Fu from the Eardrummerz. This new kid outta Toronto, Francis, and this new kid, Bentley Haze. I went with some new kids that came across and I’m really happy to introduce my producers, PakkMusicGroup, while keeping it a family affair.

Speaking of the kids, SZA recently said she might quit making music.

She’s just talking shit, man. She’s extreme. It makes for great poetry, though.

My question is do you have any advice for kids who wanna get into the music industry?

Stop asking for advice. That’s my tell-all. - HYPEBEAST


Ab-Soul confirmed in an interview with “The Breakfast Club” today that the long-rumored Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole album is in fact in the works, as The Fader points out. Earlier today, he appeared on the radio show to promote his new album DWTW. Towards the end of the interview, Charlamagne asked Ab-Soul if he has “a feature on the Kendrick/Cole album.” Ab-Soul responded by saying “I can't speak on that. I wish I could.” Charlemagne continued to press Ab-Soul, asking “how many songs” they might’ve recorded and when the album might be released. Ab-Soul eventually said “I don’t really know too much about it. I just hope they use my verse.” When Charlemagne asked again if there was a Kendrick/Cole album, Ab-Soul confirmed, saying “There is a Kendrick/Cole album. They got it. They got something in the works. They been working on that motherfucker for awhile.” Watch the interview below (starting at 24:00). - Pitchfork


Ab-Soul, the most philosophical member of the by now vaunted Top Dawg Entertainment, met Microphone Check hosts Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley in Los Angeles two weeks before the release of his latest album, called These Days ... After only one listen to the album, the three of them had a conversation about Ab's high expectations of his audience and what he's trying to make for them.

"I've learned the bulk of what I know from hip-hop music. You understand what I'm saying? Like I learned — from listening to hip-hop music, I learned about things that I would soon learn about as an adult, from listening to it as a child," he says. "That's what I got from hip-hop, and so I just want to give that right back."

ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD: Ab-Soul in the building. What up, man?

AB-SOUL: What's the good word, brother?

MUHAMMAD: I'm so happy to be talking to you cause we saw each other — I don't know how many months ago that was — was that like six months ago?

AB-SOUL: Word, yeah, word.

MUHAMMAD: Roughly.

AB-SOUL: And it is an honor. It's an honor, brother.

FRANNIE KELLEY: Where did you guys meet?

AB-SOUL: Where were we at? SX?

MUHAMMAD: No, no, no. Before that it was at LPR.

AB-SOUL: Yeah.

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MUHAMMAD: For the ScHoolboy joint.

AB-SOUL: Yeah, that's right.

KELLEY: Oh, that's right. It was your birthday.

MUHAMMAD: Yeah, it was your birthday.

AB-SOUL: Oh yeah! Exactly, yeah. For sure, for sure. Yeah, I remember that.

MUHAMMAD: And we talked about you coming here. I wanted to make it happen right then and there. I was like, "Could we get you up here tomorrow?"

AB-SOUL: Word. You gotta have something to talk about.

MUHAMMAD: Absolutely.

AB-SOUL: You gotta have something to talk about. I don't like to move without direction.

MUHAMMAD: Me either. I stay quiet because I'm like, "What's the point?" But you have a lot to talk about I think. People want to talk to you. But I respect the position. You got These Days, though, so we here.

AB-SOUL: We are here. We are here. These Days. June 24th, you feel me? TDE.

KELLEY: It's a lot to talk about on that album.

AB-SOUL: Yeah, yeah. I cover a lot. I cover a whole lot.

KELLEY: Do you feel like you did what you wanted to do with it?

AB-SOUL: Absolutely, absolutely. You know, I had turned it in at the top of the year, so this extra time just gave me extra time to, you know, seal the deal, you feel me?

KELLEY: What were you doing with that extra time?

AB-SOUL: Just adding a few extra songs.

KELLEY: OK.

AB-SOUL: Just cleaning everything up, expounding a bit, elaborating.

KELLEY: It's very open and earnest.

AB-SOUL: Yeah. I mean, I try to be that. A lot of my favorite artists embody that so I try to give that back, you know what I mean? That's what I got from hip-hop. I just want to kick that back if I can.

KELLEY: Like who specifically?

AB-SOUL: I won't even be cliche and say, like, Jay Z and Nas, I'll take you to like even KRS-One, you know, hip-hop intelligent movement, that type of thing. Who was the one said that hip-hop was like the black CNN? It's just these things — like a lot of the early artists, you know, Rakim, you know he called himself the God, then, and so we hear it now and I think a lot of people of my generation might think that this is new, you get what I'm saying? So I mean, I just try to, you know, I'm just trying to restore the feeling.

MUHAMMAD: Have you ever met Rakim?

AB-SOUL: No, I haven't met Rakim personally, but I met his son. His son actually called into a radio — I forgot which radio station I was at but he called in while I was doing the interview and it was dope. That was super dope. I'm sure I'll catch Rakim slipping one day though, for sure.

KELLEY: That's the second time today that Chuck D has come up. And I know he's on Twitter a lot right now talking about black radio and everything. I mean, it's pretty shocking that somebody would go at him and not think that everybody would know exactly who he was messing with.

AB-SOUL: What is black radio?

KELLEY: Well, I think that's part of the debate right now.

AB-SOUL: Got you.

KELLEY: But mostly, you know, hip-hop, R&B, quote unquote urban.

AB-SOUL: Urban, got you.

KELLEY: Yeah.

AB-SOUL: Got you. But I mean, it's all subjective. I think that's what also makes it so cool, so fun, you know what I mean? It's subjective. I can't please everybody. I'm not gonna say that's impossible, but it's very highly unlikely that you please everybody.

KELLEY: Yeah. But what do you also say on the album? You don't even have that many haters?

AB-SOUL: Well, yeah, just in terms — that line was just in terms of my circle of friends.

KELLEY: Oh, OK.

AB-SOUL: In my circle of friends, you know, we'd be here without a doubt. Then I guess I would say "too many" cause it might be a couple, a few deceivers in my presence, but for the most part, you know, I've had the opportunity to move around with guys that I've grew up with from the sandbox, pretty much. Fortunately for me.

KELLEY: To me, the album is very like — so we've spoken to a lot of the guys that you work with and everybody seems to have a plan, like a three-album plan.

AB-SOUL: Word.

KELLEY: But Control System was not part of your trilogy and this feels even further removed from the plan.

AB-SOUL: Right.

KELLEY: Is that all a bad feeling, or is there any good feeling about the plan not progressing the way that you thought it would?

AB-SOUL: Oh no, I mean, I'm enjoying every step. And you know, my series I guess that you're talking about would be Longterm.

KELLEY: Yeah.

AB-SOUL: And Longterm is my series that I came up with when I first decided to become an artist. And it's supposed to be four parts. And the Longterm 4 should be my last album.

KELLEY: Oh, OK.

AB-SOUL: The title alone speaks for itself: Longterm. If you look it up, it's a term of considerably 10 years, you know what I'm saying, where you thinking long-term. So everything that happens, all of the hurdles and the potholes or whatnot, are all necessary for the long-term goal, you see what I'm saying. So I wouldn't tell you that — I wouldn't say that everything is not happening according to plan, you know. I think everything is going according to plan. You're gonna have a few surprises here and there, but for the most part, we seem to be, we seem to be touching a lot of people and really being accepted and recepted by a lot of people. So it seems like a positive thing, completely.

KELLEY: Yeah.

MUHAMMAD: When you were coming up, were you surrounded by people who then wholly embraced your vision or your way of communicating?

AB-SOUL: In general?

MUHAMMAD: In terms of music community.

AB-SOUL: I mean, I'm a people person. I'm kind of cool everywhere I go, you know what I mean, for the most part. And for the things that I say, I kind of know how to say 'em to whom I say it to, if you — does that make sense? I could chop it up with my homie that's a criminal and I could talk to Obama, who's the president, too. I got questions for both of 'em and I could talk to 'em both in their dialect, do you see what I'm saying?

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MUHAMMAD: Yeah. I think it's clear — I think what I'm getting at is that the community you know, with TDE, you guys are such a force.

AB-SOUL: Yeah.

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MUHAMMAD: And it was quiet before your force was revealed. It was revealed within your community; you knew what was gonna happen, where you guys were going, what you were building, you know. But in terms of the outside world, they weren't privy to that yet, you know?

AB-SOUL: Word.

MUHAMMAD: And whatever was going on around that time, I don't know. Obviously it didn't affect you guys, but maybe it did in the way that it inspired and pushed you guys to really just be like, you know, like, "This is our stuff and this is the way we're crafting our art." I don't know.

AB-SOUL: No, I think I understand what you saying. What's very important to note is that we're actually — those are really my brothers. Like, I slept on the floor with them, you get what I'm saying? We all sat in the studio together and tried to figure it out together.

I probably stepped foot in that studio in '06 for the first time. So if you could imagine that type of time, us — we grew up together, in a sense. So everything that's happening now is only a byproduct of that. And I mean, if you think about that time, we were conditioned for everything that might happen. 'Cause you gotta think, the age that we live in — this is the Internet age. I mean, we see how the media works, we see how, you know, celebrities are treated.

And I grew up in a record shop. So I watched eight-tracks come, and 45s come, and 12-inches and then cassettes come and I watched the whole — I watched the transition. It's always gonna change, but now we have even more of that extensive information. I could look, I could hop online and type in hip-hop and get the whole history of hip-hop at the click of a button.

I just feel like we studied. We're highly conditioned for this, if I would have to say. It's not no type of pressure. I'm so proud. I'm very proud of them and I'm proud of what we've done, you know what I mean. I hope we can continue.KELLEY: Just in that vain, on "Stigmata," you talk about Steve Jobs taking your grandfather's job and it was your job.

AB-SOUL: Right.

KELLEY: What's the next step?

AB-SOUL: Like I said, I worked in a record shop and my grandpa owned it.

KELLEY: Yeah.

AB-SOUL: And that's physical distribution.

KELLEY: Uh-huh.

AB-SOUL: When iTunes dropped, that was the transition from CD to MP3. Not — I won't say when iTunes dropped.

KELLEY: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Singles ...

AB-SOUL: But you know, Napsters and your file-sharing programs came. Steve Jobs created iTunes to where we could actually, you could sell your music digitally. So that revolution — if you could imagine me — you know, my mom ran it, it was a family-owned business, I'm there every day after school. And I'm trying to rap.

You can only imagine my mom looking at me trying to rap, and we're going out of business. You get what I'm saying? So right when the record shop came to an end — Magic Disc Music, shout-out to Magic Disc Music — right when it came to an end, Murs took me out on tour.

KELLEY: Wow.

AB-SOUL: And then I dropped my project Longterm Mentality on iTunes. So I was rewarded, still. We got to still stay in the music and we still selling records, still, you feel what I'm saying? It's still possible when we thought, you know, just in the physical land that it was over. So that's what that line would imply.

MUHAMMAD: So much of your music is so deep. It's like, where do you go? Because there are things that I think are somewhat literal, and then there's things that have so much layer and depth to it. It's the equivalent of, you know, going to a university or having like a whole bunch of — a library of things that you have to — or are told you should — study and look, read up on, before you can have an understanding of what this whole thing is that we're living in.

AB-SOUL: Yeah. I mean, yeah. I just like to talk about it. I like to reason, you know what I mean? I like to ask questions. I like to talk about it — everything. This world is a big place.

MUHAMMAD: What inspires you outside of maybe the obvious of just living and breathing. Like what's the purpose you get from making music or stepping up to a microphone?

AB-SOUL: I think it's simply that — I could probably honestly tell you that I've learned the bulk of what I know from hip-hop music. You understand what I'm saying? Like I learned — from listening to hip-hop music, I learned about things that I would soon learn about as an adult, from listening to it as a child. And that's just amazing to me; that's just remarkable.

So I want to give that back. I want somebody to feel like that made me feel. Like, "What does that mean? What did he mean by that? It sounded like he said it like I should have known what it meant." Like, "I'm late." You get what I'm saying? That's what I got from hip-hop, and so I just want to give that right back.

MUHAMMAD: Do your fans come up to you and have real in-depth conversations? Like they're clear on —

AB-SOUL: Yeah, all the time.

MUHAMMAD: Like, "I so get it."

AB-SOUL: All the time.

MUHAMMAD: What does that turn into? For example, someone comes up to you and they'll ask you — I mean, I'm fascinated by a lot. You said, "We run this world, price in a Pharaoh pyramid?" I was just trying to write as I heard it.

AB-SOUL: Word. I said, "When doves cry, s—- gets serious / You'll feel like a prince in Pharaoh's pyramid. Scheme."


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MUHAMMAD: That's what you said.

AB-SOUL: Right.

MUHAMMAD: Why'd you say that?

AB-SOUL: Well, I mean, obvious wordplay upon Prince and "When Doves Cry."

MUHAMMAD: "It was a scheme."

AB-SOUL: And "it was a scheme." I mean, it's just a lot. It's a lot. I couldn't, I couldn't even — you feel me.

KELLEY: That's the headline on this interview.

AB-SOUL: And that's what I'm saying. It's kinda like you could use your imagination.

MUHAMMAD: Absolutely.

AB-SOUL: But you know, you should be able to directly catch some sort of word association or something. You should catch something. And you can take it as deep as you want. You can go into the deep end if you want or you could, you know, stay on the shallow end, too.

MUHAMMAD: I mean, you just placed it out there. I was like, "Brilliant. Smart." From an MC perspective, you gotta sprinkle things and do things like that. Sometimes there's so specific of a purpose — you know like you choose a word because it lands with something. "I'm really saying this because I need you to open up this little section, you know, and I'm not gonna take you all the way there, but just enough for you to be like, 'Hmm.'"

AB-SOUL: Exactly.

MUHAMMAD: In that particular song, you say, "She can't wait to get rid of me." Who is she?

AB-SOUL: Uh ...

KELLEY: Life.

AB-SOUL: Life, yeah, I'm sorry, yeah. "Maybe I'm just a dreamer / Life is but a dream and I will never leave her / but I bet she can't wait to get rid of me."

MUHAMMAD: Why'd you say that?

AB-SOUL: What if I told you I don't know.

MUHAMMAD: I'd believe you. But it's just so deep.

AB-SOUL: Exactly. I think I said that to provoke that thought. Like what, "What if life is a girl?" I love to provoke thought. Just think about it. But at the same time, you know, I'm trying to figure it out with you; I don't know. I'm not trying to act like — you know what I mean?

MUHAMMAD: I always got that from your music. It's not an apologetic position. It's always been a state of, "I know some s—-."

AB-SOUL: Right.

MUHAMMAD: "And I'm tripping up on some stuff. I'm stumbling on some stuff, figuring out some stuff. I deliberate — I know cause I know."

AB-SOUL: Right. What do you think about it?

MUHAMMAD: Yeah.

AB-SOUL: This is what I — now how do you feel about this?

MUHAMMAD: From me being, you know, older than you, and having such admiration for your art and your crew — your generation and what we kind of left you guys with, in a sense ... It's just, you want to leave people with something better, and it seems like we didn't leave you guys with much that's better.

There's things that you realize on your own, and that's with every generation, but you try to leave something better so that they know, like, "I can cling to this dream and take it to this next thing." It seems like you guys are creating your own destinies without anything wholesome.

AB-SOUL: No, yeah, I feel you.

MUHAMMAD: I hear that and I'm just like, "What the hell?" And, "Where do you go?" Like, "Where does the next generation go?" Where does the next Ab-Soul fan who's like, "I am connecting" — like," I get it" — the same way you learned about things through hip-hop and they're learning about things through you, I'm like, "Where does this go?"

AB-SOUL: Well, what I would say first to that — first and foremost, you gotta remember, you know, hip-hop is amongst the youngest genres of music anyway. Like is hip-hop 100 years old? You know what I'm saying?

KELLEY: It's 40.

AB-SOUL: 40. So, in that right, in respect to all of the other genres that had came before, we sample that, in rap. In that right, we're still trying to figure it out, really.

MUHAMMAD: Do you feel that maybe you guys weren't given much?

AB-SOUL: I think we — I think everyone is given everything that they need to do what they need to do.

KELLEY: Are you asking from an artistic perspective, or not?

MUHAMMAD: Yeah, definitely from an artistic perspective.

AB-SOUL: That, but even what I said, period: I think we all have all of the tools already to do what we need to do, what we would like to do. It's just up to us, you know what I mean. It's up to you how bad you want to do that thing. I think all the tools are here to do it, though.

MUHAMMAD: So people can't make excuses.

AB-SOUL: Right. You feel me? When I first started rapping, it was fun — I was trying to mock Twista. Then I really wanted to, you know, I couldn't really do that, exactly. That's his one-of-a-kind thing that he does. So I start trying to find my own style. Then you can rhyme good and you can do that. You got punchlines, you got metaphors, you tight. You like, "I'm tight," you know? "I'm so tight that, I'm so ill that, I'm so dope that." Then, after you do that a million times over, you gonna ask yourself, "OK, so what are we gonna talk about?"

You just want to be dope and ill at that point. You want to stop saying it; you want to really lead by example, instead of just giving examples, you understand what I'm saying? And I just think that's what, if I had to — I think that's what we do. I want to hear new words and new things in the popular or, you know, the black music, the urban music. I want to hear a few more words. Seems like I'm hearing the same words. And this is just in terms of what we would call popular, urban music — whatever that means. But I feel like the range of subject matter isn't far. It just seems to go from the studio to the strip club.

MUHAMMAD: So in your album, it seems like the front part of it was kind of like girls, drugs. And then it got really beyond that, which made me really happy.

AB-SOUL: Word.

MUHAMMAD: But this is just my first listen, you know. And I don't like really talking about a body of work just off of one listen.

AB-SOUL: Right.

MUHAMMAD: But my initial feeling of it was like, "Wow." On the top of it, it was that, but then you — maybe I'm wrong — but then there was this reveal that was — there's a lot to the record, man.

AB-SOUL: Well, yeah, like, you're talking the intro, "God's Reign?"

MUHAMMAD: Just the intro on — I want to say like the first two, three songs or something like that — it just had like this theme that was seemingly reoccurring pertaining to —

AB-SOUL: Well, I took my time with it.

MUHAMMAD: Yeah.

AB-SOUL: I took my time with it. I mean, I tried to make it as cohesive as possible but I didn't want to make it too — I didn't want to make it Control System Part 2, if that makes sense. But I mean, I always like to thread things together. It's got to sound good, it's got to flow well. I always put these things in mind.

KELLEY: The top of the album to me is, that's when there are all those songs that are technically one song but they sound like two songs.

AB-SOUL: Right.

KELLEY: Like stitched together. We hear that happening, I think, more often over the past few years.

AB-SOUL: Mm-hmm.

KELLEY: Where does that come from?

AB-SOUL: Yeah, cause I had recorded, I guess, so many songs, probably about — I won't say so many songs — I probably recorded about 20, 25 songs for the project. And Top Dawg, my boss, he was trying to cut it; he was saying it don't need to be so long. "You gonna bore people. So if you chop this down to like 14 or 15 songs ..." So I just tried to —

KELLEY: So you got around that.

AB-SOUL: Right. I tried to wiggle around that best as I could, because I felt strongly about the records, of course. I guess it just worked out. It worked out that way.

KELLEY: I think the variety works out really well. I think the sequencing is real tight.

AB-SOUL: Right and that's one of my main things, in general, with all my bodies of work: I just try to touch as many bases as possible, try to touch as many hands as possible, you feel what I'm saying? Just broaden the range, the horizon.

KELLEY: Yeah.

MUHAMMAD: What was with the Puffy endorsement?

KELLEY: Is that Q — a shout to Q?

AB-SOUL: Yeah, it was kind of like that. I guess that's going to the two-part song. That was me putting Puffy and Puffy on the same track.

KELLEY: Yeah.

AB-SOUL: You feel what I'm saying? That was super tight to me and I mean, who else better to let the world know that I'm eating than Dr. Combs?

MUHAMMAD: Dr. Combs!

AB-SOUL: You feel me? - NPR


Discography


Do What Thou Wilt. (2016)

Longterm 1 and 2 (2015)

These Days... (2014)

Control System (2012)

LONGTERM MENTALITY (2011)


Photos

Bio

Ab-Soul, Herbert Anthony Stevens, is a Hip-Hop artist out of Carson California. He is currently signed to Top Dawg Entertainment(TDE),  and is a member of Black Hippy, which includes Ab-Soul, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, and SchoolBoy Q. He is known for his lyricism and his dark shades that he is always seen wearing.

Ab-Soul was born on February 23, 1987. He lived in Germany for the first 4 years of his life, and after his parents split up he moved back to his grandmothers house with his mom, in Carson, CA. When he was 10 years old, he was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. This is the cause of his dark lips, and his sensitivity to light, which is the reason he is always wearing sunglasses. Stevens loved basketball and video games, he even wanted to go pro, but his condition hindered his ability to play, which eventually led to his love of music.

He started out rapping at a young age, he would rap battle, text battle, he csaid he spent a majority of time on BlackPlanet freestyle chat, which was an African-American social networking service. He learned his rhyming skills through this and what is called keystyle. He wrote his first verse at 12 years old, to Twista's "Emotions." Ab-Soul is considered an introspective rapper, he loves to say things that can connect with people, he loves being "real" and making a connection with his listeners. Rapping was his hobby, and his parents saw him as someone with a bright future, with a good college education. After he graduated high school, he enrolled in community college where he struggled to attend. Rapping had become a passion of his and he struggled to attend his classes, he dropped out two separate times. This is when he became a rapper full time.

Ab-Soul recorded his first song in 2002, and signed with a record label, StreetBeat Entertainment. He said that this label was a good learning experience for him. In 2006, he met the chairmen of TDE, who he a built a strong relationship with, and after his 2 year deal with StreetBeat was up, he signed with TDE in 2007. He started his work on his debut album in 2008, after making an appearance in Jay Rocks debut single, "All My Life." He released a music video in December 2008, for a song off of his mixtape Longterm, called "A Day in the Life." He released Longterm in January 2009, and claimed its a 4 part series, which is currently on Longterm 2: Lifestyles of the Broke and Almost Famous. He formed the group Black Hippy in 2009, with Jay Rock, Kendrick, and SchoolBoy Q.

He released his debut album, Longterm Mentality, on April 5, 2011, exclusively through iTunes and under TDE. The album peaked at 73 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. The album is not apart of the Longterm series. After the success of his Black Hippy member Schoolboy Qs, Habits and Contradictions, Ab-soul began promoting his second studio album, with the release of one of his popular songs, Black Lip Bastard, one January 17, 2012. His album, Control System, released later that year, on May 11th. His 3rd studio album, These Days..., was released on June 24th, 2014. This album followed his critically acclaimed second album, and had features from Black Hippy, Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, Action Bronson and Mac Miller. His most recent album release was Do What Thou Wilt., which was released on December 9th, 2016. This album was accompanied by his two most popular songs of the album, "Huey Knew" and "Braille." 

Ab-Soul hasn't said much on his next studio album but hasn't been completely off grid, he has been featured on a few songs since his last album, but his most recent feature was on Bloody Waters, with Anderson .Paak.