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.
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.
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,
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