Ab-Soul is an enigma. Sometimes the TDE wordsmith gives off mysterious vibes as he sits hidden behind dark shades and marijuana smoke while other times you can catch a glimpse of his wide-mouthed smile. But under all of that is a sweet guy from the West Coast who has the lyrical dexterity reminiscent of the greats that came before him. He’s not an ex-drug dealer, a former project dweller or a gang member. He’s a self proclaimed “genius-idiot” who describes his style as “Kendrick Lamar on an acid tablet.”
The 27-year-old has released four projects to date, but his June 24th release will be one of the six highly anticipated releases from TDE this year. Many are familiar with his Black Hippy affiliate and labelmate Kendrick Lamar, but not all are aware of the gem that is Ab-Soul. Read on to see why Top Dawg’s underdog and our #ManCrushEveryday is worth listening to.
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His music is honest.
Soulo was never afraid to say he was broke and driving in a hooptie in his music. Whether it was him feeling guilty about not having a 9 to 5, being talked about because of his appearance or being penniless and having to ask the weed man to do him a “favor,” Ab pours it all into the music. He also doesn’t sugarcoat his upbringing, being upfront about his middle class upbringing in Carson, CA and never wanting for anything.
His lyrics show his complex way of thinking.
When you listen to the music, it’s obvious that there’s more to him than money, hoes and clothes. Ab-Soul is an introvert and uses the music to make us analyze double standards and societal ills instead of just turning up. On songs like “Nibiru,” he stands firm as a believer in the doomsday event where “Planet X” collides with Earth. On “Almost There,” he urges people to apply strategy and vision to achieving what they want to accomplish. He’s not deep all the time though. He shows a more playful side on “Mixed Emotions,” his ode to the trippy concoction lean. Who doesn’t love a MC that can make you think and chase your dreams?
Ab isn’t flashy and talking about his Audemars and Louboutins like every other rapper.
When you look at Soul, his less than flashy appearance makes him stand out. He usually has a fitted cap sitting on top of his blown out curls with a pair of fashionable shades or gazelles on. He doesn’t wear blinding jewelry or fancy clothes, so he’s light on the boastful lyrics. His music tackles topics like double standards in relationships, rebelling, conspiracy theories and even the joys of marijuana. As a critical thinker, the after-effects of his music shine over any name brand he might be sporting.
Soul has been able use his hardships to produce compelling tracks.
Besides losing his father before they could speak, Soulo was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome when he was ten years old. This disease caused him to experience internal and external fever, massive blistering and skin loss (his lip skin also fell off and grew back black). Due to a severe case of pink eye during that time, his eyes were swollen shut for three months, leaving him with light sensitive eyes that do not have the best vision. So the shades are not just for fashion, but for protection. Though he is healed now, there was more pain to come. Three years ago, his childhood sweetheart, Alori Joh, committed suicide right before the release of his 2012 project “Control System.” Heartbroken, the Black Lip Pastor penned a tear-jerking track called “Book of Soul” where he took a look back at his life and reflected on how his painful experiences shaped the man he is today.
Check the track out on the next page.