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

 

See Also: "10 Things to Learn From Ab Soul's 'These Days'"

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.

Biggest turn-off?
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.”

First love?
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.

First splurge?
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?
Hot 97

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.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
KMazur/WireImage

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

Continue Reading
Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

Continue Reading
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

Continue Reading

Top Stories