Itzme Review: Ab Soul – These Days…

Ab-Soul has his sophomore album release after two years. Many have come to love and enjoy Ab’s music by being introduced through the “Ab-Soul Outro” on Section.80, and his excellent last release Control System. Besides being associated with a popular group of emcees, he’s also known for his cleverness in his lyrics. Despite this, Ab-Soul has failed to deliver on his new album after proving himself so well. Let me take you to a land void of any profoundness, creativity, soul, and personality (and overpopulated with obscure Jesus comparisons); the place on the cover art.

I don't even think a roach can survive out there

Just look at it, there’s no support of life.

These Days is jam-packed with cliché and unoriginality. A prime example is the halfway point of the album, “TWACT”, where listeners are given a My Krazy Life reject song with a corny catchphrase that’s doomed to never catch on. On “World Runners” Ab-Soul shows you how well he can mimic a mainstream faux-inspirational rap song. Even with the song’s blurred message, he manages to come across extremely preachy. Soul even directly copies his groupmate Kendrick Lamar with the “Kendrick Lamar Interlude” the antithesis of the Ab-Soul outro.

The lack of creativity doesn’t just stop with the mimicry, but also in damn near every single chorus/bridge on the whole album. The majority of the hooks on the album consist of Ab-Soul repeating a very short phrase over and over and over and over again. And even on the ones with a little variation (emphasis on little), they fail to cross the line from annoying to catchy. Hooks are only one part of the song, but Ab made sure to put this in his verses as well. The automatic skip and epic streak-ender of the “Druggys with Hoes” series known as “Hunnid Stacks”, features two of the same verses by the same rapper–oh wait…

“Feelin’ Us” also repeats the cycle of painful repetition to the maximum with the quadruplets of “raise your hands, say Soulo hoe” and “now mama don’t cry no mo’” randomly slapped in the middle of his verses.

The part where this redundancy fails where most hip-pop tracks don’t fail as hard, is that the latter’s beats are usually more moving. A handful of beats on her are pretty good, but none exceed any expectations.

Ab-Soul struggles with structure in his latest release. Proof is the scatterbrained-ness of “Nevermind That” with BJ the Chicago Kid singing so sweetly at the most random times. “Nevermind That” just screams tourrettes, with its left-field breaks and tempo. There’s also the needlessly long beat ride-outs on “Ride Slow”. The biggest surprise of These Days is that almost all the songs are aimless and have no feeling. In the Black-lip Pastor’s previous works, he were a lot of self-expressive works: songs like “Book of Soul” and “Be A Man”. As mentioned in the intro, this album is void of that.

I don't even think a roach can survive out there

I don’t even think a roach can survive out there

Fortunately, the song “Closure” prevents the album from being completely soulless. It’s actually one of the few good songs on the project, which is ironic because it’s an all singing song on a rap album.

“Tree of Life” sounds like an adventurous soundtrack to Ab’s exploration of the multiple definitions of “tree”. “Stigmata” was a rather appropriate title single to the album, especially when it cut out the ending verses for the video, because it’s a pretty good beat and verse with an epic hook that goes against the grain of this album.

“Ride Slow” features the Hybrid picking up slack with a verse that takes you back the good times of 2012, when he wrecked every instrumental he spit on. And the album ends with a rap battle where clever bars are exchanged between Ab and Daylyt—something different. These moments are to few and far between to redeem all the faults of These Days, however.

One can really tell that an album is lacking when it’s more exciting to talk about why it was bad, than to talk about the actual album itself. There are plenty of theories,

absoultweet

but at the end of the day the album remains disappointing. It contains a few rare peeks of what Soul is actually capable of. Perhaps These Days is Ab-Soul’s discographical death so he can rise again.

Room temperature at best.

Favorite Songs: “Closure” “Tree of Life” “Stigmata” “Just Have Fun” Danny Brown’s verse in “Ride Slow”

Songs That Blew Me: Almost everything else

Stay Frosty.

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Itz My Single Picks 4/27

 

What’s crackin ya’ll, I’m back with a couple of cold releases to finish off the month of April

First off I got this intense double-time track ripper known as Rickee Stylez. This guy spits like a machine gun over the “Bonfire” instrumental with incredible aggression and charismatic personality. SCR

Next up this track from Doughmars, who also made the instrumental. The result is a really mellow old-school sound with catchy lyrics sprinkled on top of it. The talking samples also add a nice vibe to this song. Overall it kinda puts you in this different zone with its overall sound.

Ab-soul does some trademark verbal origami with his wordplay on this “The End is Near” song. Mac Miller also shows up impressively on the instrumental. Just another little teaser from Ab to give his fans before his next project, shows he still has bars.

Also got some euphoric tunes from some other west coast cats. It’s off some “today’s gonna be a good day” type stuff. I’m loving the jazzy piano. Features my boy Prometheus Brown from the Blue Scholars.

itzdadiabolical

XXL Freshman 2013

So this list brings a level of excitement to it every year and whatever. Everybody has their own opinions on it, including yo boy: itzdadiabolical. Unlike award shows and whatnot, I feel this list really matters. People on this list get looks, especially if they haven’t been heard of before. I mean, you can see the effects of last years list on Macklemore, Danny Brown, and Future’s careers; although I wouldn’t entirely credit XXL for that it was still a contribution. I feel that the XXL Freshman list is for talented new artists, OR relatively unknown artists/artists on the come-up to get a little breakthrough or push into more of a public eye. Obviously any artist on an XXL freshman list isn’t totally out of nowhere, but they should still be under that level of people knowing about them like that (not necessarily mainstream).

So I’m just going to go over the picks of this list and tell ya’ll how I feel bout them.

Ab-Soul: Why is he on this list? Don’t get me wrong, Ab is one of my favorite artists of this time, but he’s already known. Control System was a pretty popular album last year, any major hip-hop fan should know about it. He’s been on features with all types of people like the other TDE members, Joe Budden, Childish Gambino, Macklemore, Smoke DZA, etc. He’s also been rapping for a good while. You could argue so was Danny Brown and Macklemore last year, but they weren’t known like that. There were still hip-hop fans that haven’t heard of Danny Brown or “XXX”, Macklemore had a rather slow progress to the top with his single “Thrift Shop”, but people who weren’t into Seattle hip-hop and stuff didn’t know about “The Town” and other tracks like that.

Action Bronson: Should’ve been on last year’s list. Or the year before that. This list will have a minimal effect on his career at this point, like how late are ya’ll gonna be? This guy made a whole project with one of the most popular producers in the rap game (Alchemist). He’s a big part of NYC’s comeback in the rap scene. Had top mixtapes for like the past two years. Mad late, XXL.

Angel Haze: I’m cool with this one, although I’m not CRAAAZY bout this chick. She does fill the female spot on the list well, though. And I think she lived in VA or something too. Anyway, decent pick here.

Peep her “Reservation” mixtape here

Chief Keef: Oh wow, my mans Chief Keef sneaks into the Freshman 10 as the 11th pick. I halfway agree with this pick and halfway don’t. This dude made a decent name for himself (musically not in real life) and he makes hella catchy hooks and overall jamming songs. Plus he’s a young dude. On the other hand, this kid is signed to a major label, had a chart topping song/remix, has people’s name in his mouth basically. Somebody struggling could’ve used this 11th spot, man.

Dizzy Wright: I wouldn’t have picked him for the list personally, but I like this choice. I know cuz has been rapping for a minute or two, but I just started listening to him. He’s relatively unknown and pretty good so he should get some good looks off of this hopefully.

In case you missed

Joey Bada$$: He deserved this spot, no question. Young new rapper, released an excellent tape last year, still not quite mainstream level yet, etc. Good job XXL

Kirko Bangz: lol… nahhhhh. He had a buzz a while ago with that one single that name slips my mind at the moment, but it died out. And it’s not like his buzz dying is a travesty either. He’s kinda equivalent to the Roscoe pick last year. I don’t hate cuz or his music tho, I’m just saying.

Logic: Logic! MARYLAND WE IN HERE OAW8PWYTRIAPGSITY!!!! Sike nah, let me stop. I really can’t be anything but excited about this because he’s from my area. Not exactly my top 5 local rappers or nothin, but he’s still good. This is great for him and our area (hopefully).

ScHoolboy Q: C’mon man… Really? XXL just gon put every decent rapper that hasn’t been on the list before on this? Lemme guess, Nas gon be on the next joint… Q had one of the better albums last year, he has looks already. He’s heavily involved in not only TDE, but Danny Brown, A$AP, and Bronsolinno. I mean, “Yay Yay” blew up all over the internet last week. He didn’t need this at all. Maybe it’ll get Oxymoron’s sales a baby boost. Doubt it though.

Travis $cott (I think I put the $ on the right ‘s’ <.<): I’ve heard this guy’s name before, but never listened to him. I’m almost positive that he’s a hype rapper (a la 2 Chainz, Juicy J, Chief Keef, Waka, etc.) Definitely gonna get him buzz though, because I’m bout to check his music out now.

Trinidad Jame$: Well, well, well. I know some people are pissed about this. This dude is probably one of the coolest, most down-to-earth, realest dudes in Hip-Hop right now. That being said, he’s just awful at rapping. I haven’t been able to listen to anything but “All Gold Everything” without cracking up, and even AGE used to have me cracking up at “n*ggan*ggan*gga”. Still, I’m not sure why, but I have some desperate hope in this guy like all the support he gets from other rappers will eventually foster some talent deep within him. Or maybe he’ll find his own little niche in songs. Right now though?

3ra0oe

Too many $ names on this list….

So maybe some of you guys are thinking, “Well itzdadiabolical you’re talking all this trash, but you haven’t made a list.” You’re exactly right! Not yet, anyway. Honestly, it’s hard to pick just ten people, but it’s not hard to know who NOT to pick… If I absolutely had to make a list or die, this is who I’d pick in no particular order:

1. Joey Bada$$

2. Trouble

3. Fat Trel

4. T.Shirt

5. Flatbush Zombies

6. Oxy X Moron

7. Casey Veggies

8. Rapsody

9. Mr. MFN eXquire

10. CJ the Genesis

Obviously biased, but only a little. It’s still better than this one XXL just farted out though.

#5 Ab-Soul – Control System

Back in May, when I first heard Terrorist Threats I was amazed by this dude. All I knew about him was that he was one of Kendrick Lamar’s homies or whatever. That song stayed on repeat on my iPhone and I was sitting on my computer refreshing the page ready to but Control System as soon as it came out. I was sure that joint was going to be the album of the year.

Needless to say I was right. Kinda. Well not really, but this album is still hellfire man. Soulo has amazing wordplay, charisma, and perhaps the best concept creating skill of the new generation of hip-hop (Nod to Nibiru). Oh yeah and he also has amazing wordplay. This guy is characterized by his good wordplay, and he lets you know right in the beginning of the song.

“I can see you half-steppin

I should somersault

Some-are-salty that I did it in the way I did”

And it goes on and on and on… Especially on the next track. Ya’ll just gon have to go ahead and listen though, cuz if I keep quoting I won’t stop, album is full of quotables. The black-lip bastard is also talented in making hooks and whatnot. Unlike some other lyrical rappers (*ahemJcoleaopeshdgahemahem) Ab-Soul doesn’t weaken when it comes to hooks. With the contagious hook of “Bohemian Grove” and catchy chorus of “Lust Demons” among others, you can’t ever say that Soul is weak on the verses OR the hooks.

Concepts is on point as he can make tracks about how people treat males and females differently in situations regarding sexual interactions and whatnot with “Double Standards”. Then he also has an “anti-system” rally along with a song comparing him to Job from the bible, and his relationship with his close friend who committed suicide. He sticks to his concepts well and thoroughly, he doesn’t veer off subject or nothing, which is always commendable.

On top of all that good stuff, the songs just sound so great. Songs like “Showin’ Love” where his flow is so on-point and he switches up his delivery on top of a bananas beat. If you listening on some decent headphones/speakers you’ll hear how great these joints sound. One example, you hear his voice waving from left to right on the hook.  The beats are all really tight and fit the mood of the song, and there’s really no exceptions in this case. “Terrorist Threats” has a real eerie mood that makes you empathize with Ab and feel like there’s all the government secrets being held from you, “Bohemian Grove” has a cool and upbeat instrumental that fits the relaxed mood of, well, messin’ wit females.

There’s a reason why I could feel how great this album was going to be just off one song, and Ab-Soul’s not done if he keeps on the track he’s been on. He’s been on a roll with his features, so look out for him.

Short Dawg – Southern Flame Spitta 5

sfs5

Short Dawg (from Houston, I swear there’s like 10 Short Dawgs) dropped his new mixtape featuring Ab-Soul, Bun B, Gudda Gudda (lma0), and a couple of other dudes ya’ll probably haven’t heard of yesterday. Makes sure you check it out, I heard his Drankenstein joint and it’s some nice stuff to bump in the whip got some good beats. Link is on the pic.