Despite looking forward to its release, I wasn’t really expecting to like Ab Soul’s latest album, These Days, because I just never cared for his flow that much. Having seen Twitter’s initial mixed but mostly negative reactions to the project, I decided to log-off and give the album it’s due process; and I was left pleasantly surprised.
The album wasn’t great. It’s not the game-changing, pseudo intellectual masterpiece that’s going to shake up the genre Black Hippy fans were hoping for, but it is good. These Days is decent on a few levels, and mostly importantly, it’s entertaining. Long-winded sure, corny in specific moments (Twact) sure, but at least for Solo it’s a step in a progressive direction. You can tell Ab wanted to experiment with different styles, you can see where he’s been influenced musically by current industry trends, you can tell that Ab-Soul finally cares about being a star (Feeling Us).
If Control System was all about believing in yourself and going against the grain on your path to eternal nirvana or whatever, then These Days is about believing in yourself but learning from others to get to where that path is taking you. This evolution is important because if any rapper was in danger of being type-cast as “that kind of rapper”, it was Soul. Instead he switches from metaphysical mafioso with Ross on “Nevermind That” to flexing his far-side focus with Lupe on “World Runners”; then he keeps it authentic 2010 Black Hippy on “Hunnid Stax” ft Schoolboy Q and Mac Miller on the hook. The album has variety which Ab-Soul desperately needed.
Don’t get me wrong, not everything that the black sheep of TDE attempted came to fruition. “Sapiosexual” has a fire beat, but the track for me is wasted with his lazy metaphors about sexing, the hook is dumb, and the whole “let me f*ck your mind” aspect is weird and a bit creepy. (Yes, hipsters, I know he’s talking about offering to satisfy a woman mentally as well as physically; it’s still lazy and corny.) There’s a song called Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude and it features Kendrick Lamar and it’s like five minutes long; mind you Kendrick Lamar is dropping his own album this fall. The track was cool, but I can’t help but wonder was it just thrown on the album like a secondary meta tag in a result to get more listens by offering something with K Dot’s name on it? And “Closure” is just, no.
Also, the album is long as hell. With 15 songs, most of them running over four minutes and then one totaling 23 minutes of him talking in circles with JMSN (W.R.O.H), I just couldn’t listen to it more than once in certain time span. It’s not an album that you’re going to play all day, all the time. It’s more of a “oh yea, Ab Soul did have that one album…it was pretty okay” kind of album.
Best Tracks: Hunnid Stax, Dub Sac, Nevermind That, Feeling Us