— Droo Xavier (@DrooXavier) November 4, 2013
When dude asked me that on Twitter, I really didn’t feel like wasting words or trying to cram thoughts into 140 characters because it’s a waste. Twitter is fleeting and rarely does anything of substance take place in my timeline. With that in mind, my canned response was “good.”
To expand on the thought, I think Ab’s definitely one of the more engaging, entertaining artists out but where he stands in the big scheme remains to be seen because he’s still creating his story piece by piece, verse by verse.
On Friday, my iPod shuffled its way to “Book Of Soul” and the same familiar chills that shoot threw my body since the first few times I heard the track returned once again without fail. The whole explanation of his childhood face-off with death and his struggle coping with Alori Joh’s passing put the record up there in the ranks with Blu’s “No Greater Love” and Jay Elec’s “Exhibit C” as one of the greatest songs of the Internet generation.* Passionate and direct, the song is Soulo at his best.
Fast forward to Soul’s appearance on Vic Mensa’s “Holy Holy” and the verse plays like a part two to “Book Of Soul.”** Ab shifts his focus solely to his relationship with Alori, their understanding and what sounds like excruciating mental torment losing her had – and still has – on him. But it’s Vic who spits a line that fits Ab like a glove: “Hide my pain, but I hide it well.”
The public image we usually see from Soul in interviews is that of a menacing Dawg, as he’s easily the most blunt artist in the TDE crew. He’s the one that candidly threatened to leave the group if they were misrepresented again in the media. The Unabashed one. He bites. But, he backs it up when the beat drops.
I often tell people Soul’s the more abstract, in terms of style, from the Black Hippy collective while Jay Rock and ScHool bring the hard-nosed, street themes. Kendrick falls in the middle of the two extremes and, ultimately, the main focus right now. However, there are times in Ab’s solo discography where he challenges K.Dot, able to get just as introspective, maybe even more. Combined, the motley crew is the closest thing we’ve seen to a modern day Wu-Tang: bulldozing through a lane they created and finding success. The question is can they each find it individually.
“I want my VH1 ‘Driven’ to be crazy”
Those aren’t the words of a guy who wants to ride another man’s coattails. During his “Day In The Life” interview with The Source’s Kidd Future, Ab explains his path with music, sharing how working the music store in Carson, CA led him to hearing the beauty behind Bone’s “Crossroads” and witnessing the overwhelming emotional response by customers when Tupac died. There’s talk about wanting his trials, embracing them in order to make his art stronger.
Oh, a Black Hippy album the people want? “We understand the magnitude of it,” Ab explains. “So we’re gonna tease y’all with that for a long time till…all the planets align.”
Just a typical abstract Ab-Soul statement left for the people to decode and unravel.
* — These three are cuts that came after circa 2008 I suppose and still sound as new and fresh as anything out. They serve as bookmarks to a time period, albeit a large one, in the same way O.C.’s “Time’s Up” automatically sends a flasher reading “1994” off in your brain on some word association steez.
** — A conversation about INNANETAPE is coming soon.
*** — I’m pretty sure I was at this particular SOBs show seen in the video. I can testify that the NYC crowd was all the way in tune with Soul’s songs.