Ab-Soul | These Days (Album Review)

 

TheseDays_FINAL_TDETDE’s hip hop enigma Ab-Soul makes his album return after two years with his new project titled These Days. The album cover offers an interesting biblical depiction of Soul as something of a Black Jesus, but ironically he not attached to the cross, a move characteristic of the controversial and thought provoking art that goes along with most of Soul’s work. Immediately beginning with the first song on the album, the recurring theme of spirituality and third eye theory makes its appearance, a move that draws in the ride-or-die fans confirming that Soul hadn’t completely strayed from his old ways, but one that also keenly draws in the ear of the new listener. Even still, Soul decides to take a slightly more mainstream approach on this album, but naturally, as his connection with a broad variety of artists continues to branch. A prime example would be on tracks like “TWACT”, a fun and upbeat sound that is directly influenced by the Bay Area sounds similar to that of Y.G., and in a way displays Soul’s connection to his Cali roots. There are a good amount of credited as well as uncredited features on this album, including: Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q, Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Jay Rock, Joey Bada$$, Danny Brown, Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, Lupe Fiasco, Action Bronson and even a production feature by the uber talented J. Cole on the track “Sapiosexual”, a brilliant move for the still blossoming artist to reach out across the cross mixture of audiences. The aforementioned religious theme is quite apparent on this album, probably more than any other release from the “Black Lipped Bastard”. Songs such as “Stigmata” and “God’s Reign” offer an interesting outlook on Soul’s depiction of certain happenings in his life, such as the recent suicide of his lover Alori Joh, a loss that affected Soul tremendously over the last year. Additionally, Soul offers an entire song in dedication to her life titled “Closure”, a track that explicitly shows the vulnerability and exposed heart full of hurt that he still possesses. Other noteworthy tracks include “Nevermind That”, featuring Rick Ross, a track that offers a fresh and smooth, R&B feel with background vocals from BJ the Chicago Kid as well as “Ride Slow”, a darker and grittier sounding tune with a kicking percussion backdrop where Detroit Danny Brown once again woos us with his raw and stripped down rhymes that melt almost seamlessly with the beat. Some other interesting production features include” Blended Babies, Purity Ring and even Mac Miller, under his humorous pseudonym of “Larry Fisherman”. Overall, the album illustrates a more evolved yet consistent attempt to play the lines of lyrical superficiality and Soul’s usual enlightenment, which makes for a well-rounded and satisfactory product.

Rating: 7.2/10

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