“Left these holes in my hand so you know who I am...” A rather grand claim from the Black Lip Pastor, but does the product live up to the hype? Ab-Soul’s latest release was described by the wordsmith as a time capsule of life events occurring between the critically acclaimed Control System and his highly anticipated album These Days. This project is a look inside the mind of a lyrically gifted madman, a glimpse into the life of a surgeon, notorious for his dissection of words with great precision. Come take a peek.
These Days, staying true to the messianic themes throughout the album, opens with the appropriately titled “God’s Reign”. What’s striking on this track is the ethereal production of Purity Ring and it’s cohesiveness with the soft, smooth vocals of SZA. Here Ab-Soul chronicles his rise to prominence and all of the struggle and negativity that came with it. Overall this track was very effective at setting the tone for the rest of the album. And what’s all the struggle for without a reward as, “money is the anthem” is the cry throughout the hustlers theme of, “Hunnid Stax”. Short on ‘substance’ this Schoolboy Q driven track more than makes up for it with energy and delivery. Not to be listened to when in search of mind stimulation this is a solid track to just vibe out or ‘chase them benjamins’ to.
Now to one of the favorites on the album, “Dub Sac” is the quintessential weed smoking/party anthem that Ab-Soul is known for. The second half of the song is nice as well, with Ab-Soul providing the vocals over smoothed out production and gritty imagery courtesy of Punch. Following suit, certainly a standout was the Rick Ross featuring, “Nevermind That”, a track that will most definitely stay on repeat for some time. “Mutha**cka I’m twact”, apparently slang for being under the influence, “Twact” is very reminiscent of the sounds of DJ Mustard. Not a bad track as I can see it serving its party anthem purpose, but a track that can definitely be considered one of the album’s low points. No need to worry though as crests are certainly reached later, one of which to be provide by a Maad City native.
“Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude”, accompanied by outstanding production by Terrace Martin, as usual, is a breath of fresh air. Here Kendrick returns the favor to Ab-Soul, delivering his animated cries of triumph followed by the candid words of Ab-Soul over smooth jazzy production. This track also slyly incorporates elements of Section 80 making for an all-around good track. Trailing this Ab-Soul croons about heartbreak on “Closure”, a track that you wouldn’t really expect from the Black Lip Bastard, but it works very well, and the subject matter is very relatable. On “Stigmata”, Ab-Soul explains just why he has those holes in his hands, sparing us the blood and gore, while borrowing from one of the GOATs Nas to get his point across. Another favorite on the album is “Feeling Us”, letting the masses know that the skill and appeal is undeniable. In addition, certainly worth mentioning is Ab-Soul’s battle with Daylyt at the end of the album, a first for me personally, and just more confirmation as to the potential of battle rap to reach the mainstream.
In his latest effort Ab-Soul simplifies his lyricism and content relative to his potential, but still delivers a very enjoyable album and remains true to character. An initial concern when viewing the tracklist was the number of features, but all of them seemed to be very well placed and effectively executed and the production was high quality throughout. This album delivers and definitely did not disappoint. These Days was just one step further in solidifying the position of Ab-Soul and TDE as a collective for long term success. Maybe he does carry the cross?
Overall Rating: 7.5/10