Interview: Where Is Ab-Soul These Days...?
Ab-Soul is so chill, he gives you a contact by sparking a convo. His cucumber cool is contagious. The 27-year-old TDE titan with the huge halo of hair is on a constant mission to get us lyrically lifted, and with the recent release of his debut opus, the uber-anticipated These Days…, he's already elevated Black Hippie's collective high. —Shanel Odum
VIBE: Congrats on the release of 'These Days...'
Ab-Soul: Yeah, there should be something on there for everybody.
Honestly, you had me worried with that Tweet about leaking the album before your release date.
That tweet wasn't a shot at TDE, it was just a response to my audience—I don’t like to say fans. If you looked at my comments at that time, I couldn’t tweet anything. They’d be like. 'Shut the fuck up, Soul. Get back in the studio.' There wasn’t an internal issue. I turned in two albums at the top of the year. The project didn’t come together for whatever reason on the business end and we just felt like I could have done more with this one. So we took more time on it, expanded it and made it a masterpiece.
Photo Credits: VIBE, Jade Anderson and Adrian Hunter
What is your favorite track to perform?
If I had to choose, “Just Have Fun” is probably the most profound record on there. It’s a two-part song. The second part is the title track, “These Days.” That song is a great representation of my opinion right now. We talk a lot about drugs and wildin’ out. The song before that is “Twacked.” If I tell you to get twacked, I mean get twacked responsibly.
Do you think there’s a lot of pressure on you considering the success of your cohorts Kendrick and Q?
I feel like I’m a fan too. I know what’s dope and what’s not. I grew up in a record store. I have an ear for music that sticks with people and resonates. When you have that, pressure’s nothing. Pressure’s going to bust a pipe or make a diamond.
What’s Ab-Soul listening to these days?
I’m really interested in the new generation of rap. Joey Bada$$ and Pro Era, H’z Global, Da$h and RetcH, Chance the Rapper, the SaveMoney clique, Vic Mensa; just a lot of new breeds. I’m 27; these guys are like 21, 23. That’s just amazing to me. I walk around with these guys and I feel 23. That’s very refreshing. I feel like the world is moving faster.
Have you ever blanked out on stage?
Believe it or not that happens sometimes. You just got to laugh it off. The show must go on.
Have you ever been fired?
I was fired by my mother from the record shop for stealing. Theft. I was stealing out the change box. Cash. I really stole from my moms. They had rolls of coins and the singles in the cash box, so I used to take a couple of singles off the top.
How long did your family have the record store?
I had a cradle in the record store. My family is responsible for all the VIP stores in L.A., in Long Beach where Snoop started, where the Eastsiders’ video was shot. My family is a big part of the independent record labels in the L.A.
Where’s Ab going these days?
To the moon. Nah, I’m just trying to get overseas. I’m trying to get to Europe. I’ve been all around the country, I’ve been to Canada, I’ve been to Amsterdam, but I haven’t been to Europe. I want to go to Africa. I want to see the rest of the world. That’s where I’m hoping to go with this one.
Where’s your favorite place to be alone these days?
Anywhere I am alone, feel me? I just like to chill. I’m all peace. I just like to chill and reflect, meditate. I could chill anywhere. This is a real cool spot to just chill right here. I love Mother Nature.
Do you have a favorite city or venue that you love to visit?
Not for nothing, it’s an honor to be out here in New York—respected, accepted. This is where it all started. It’s an honor to be coming from LA and be welcomed here; that’s amazing. It’s overwhelming. I was talking to Envy at his show and he was like, 'New York is such a difficult crowd.' It’s crazy, because I didn’t even know that—I’ve been welcomed and accepted that well.
What’s your favorite thing to sip on these days?
The drink that I’ve been grabbing more is the Energy Vitamin Water. It's replenishing. I smoke a lot, so I've got to hydrate and water’s just too plain. You don’t want to walk around with this nicotine breath; you want some flavor and some taste in your mouth.
What is Ab-Soul eating these days?
Everything. I was eating a protein bar earlier, but I’m not a vegan. I’m an optimistic person. I’m open to try new things. I still eat my mom and grandma’s pork chops.
You've got quite the crown. Your 'fro is almost as big as SZA's. Vixens want to know about your hair regimen.
This is all God’s work. My aunty washes my hair a couple times a month. It’s fresh right now so it’s straight, but as it curls up it’s going to look a lot like SZA’s.
Are you ever going to cut your hair?
I had short hair the majority of my life. I grew it out when I was a senior. I don’t ever want to cut it. When you’re growing, there’s this mid point when you can’t do anything with it. It’s too much to tie up and too big to just leave it. After that, I was like, 'I’m chopping it.' Then something told me to just grow it. When I started growing it again, I started hearing more about hair and the importance of it and how it can be your receptor. That gave me confirmation that I needed to keep this mane. I considered dreading my hair when I was growing it, but a customer at the record store I was working at did dreads and said my hair’s too fine. I’d have to put some extra stuff in it to do it right.
Who are you loving these days?
I’ve been dancing around this very beautiful woman named Yaris Sanchez. She’s a very wise, beautiful, young lady. She’s been showing me around New York. I can’t catch no cab, but they don’t ever pass her up. Ever. It’s a beautiful thing. She’s Dominican, so that’s more culture I’m getting. In LA it’s just Mexicans, so this is a new dynamic of Spanish for me. Shout out to the Dalai Mama. We’ve been tight for a couple years now.
If your sex life were a song, what would it be called?
[sings] 'These are the makings of you, the righteous way to go...'
What’s you favorite way to approach a woman?
'Say, sunshine...' I don’t have a set thing. I’m a people person, so I just vibe. I know what to say the first time I meet anybody.
Unconscious ignorance. If you are aware that you’re being ignorant, that’s tight. If you’re unconscious of being ignorant, it’s kind of sad.
Your first fan moment…
Like everyone else, I was in love with Michael Jackson. As a child, that was probably my first fan out. I graduated from my high school “Most Likely to Become a Star.”
I really fell in love for the first time in sixth grade. Kim Sandra.
First fake rumor?
‘Smokes too much weed, that’s why his lips are black.’ It’s a misconception. That’s why I’m the Black Lip Pastor.
Splurged on some weed. I got an ounce as soon as I could.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
Don’t cut your hair.
Who designs your favorite frames?
My favorites are Gazelles. I need big frames. I have all types of shades.
Last app you downloaded?
Most rebellious moment?
Objecting going to Sunday school to my mother. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. I grew up in a Christian church. Once I read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, I just went left.
Tell me one un-Google-able fact about you.
I wear a size 8 ½ shoe. The myth isn’t true.