The calculated conscious of the Black Hippy outfit, Ab-Soul is next in line for the TDE camp. The self proclaimed Black-Lipped Bastard (the man born Herbert Stevens IV suffers from Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which discolored his lip skin and makes his eyes very sensitive, hence the trademark sunglasses) brings a completely different dimension to the powerhouse group, which includes Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q. As the only member raised in suburban Carson, CA, Ab’s introspection and intellect come together to create something truly unique in the hip hop world. After a show-stealing lyrical performance on Ab-Souls Outro on Kendrick Lamar’s Section.80, his stock rose considerably. His debut studio album Long Term Mentality continued the demonstration of Soul’s versatility. Able to switch effortlessly between flows about topics from girls to Annunaki, an Ab-soul album is always guaranteed to show you something new.
This was no further evident than with the release of the groundbreaking Control System. His ability to wrap layers of depth into his presentation is on full display with the video for ILLuminate (featuring Kendrick Lamar), where he juxtaposes confidence and braggadocio (I used to wanna rap like Jay-Z, now I feel like I’m runnin’ laps around Jay-z) against a visual backdrop of post-apocalyptic dystopia. Him and Kendrick act as underground leaders, using flashing messages on buildings to lead a group of children to enlightenment. On tracks like Terrorist Threats, he deploys a hook that reads more like a poetry excerpt:
Wish I could see out of Selassie' eye
Maybe my sovereignty would still be mine
If all the gangs in the world unified
We'd stand a chance against the military tonight
After a shelved collaboration project with singer and producer JMSN, fans of the west coast native have been anticipating a new project. Early in January, he made it known that he has completed not only one, but two projects that have been handed in. The as-of-yet named album will be following a string of TDE successes in the forms of Good Kid m.a.a.d City and Oxymoron. With recently released tracks like “Christopher DRONEr” Ab proves he’s still not afraid, and that he’s ready to show us how deep the rabbit hole goes.