And so, here it is again. That time of the year when you thank the skies above that you survived three sixty five of this chaos called life. That time you reflect on all the great moments you had and ponder on the great memories you hope for in the future. The time everyone is ready to make a change and commit to a New Year’s resolution that they know isn’t going to make it past a week (lol). And then, in the meantime in between time we may reflect on a little hip hop.
On June 24th Ab- Soul released his much anticipated third studio album These Days. As I let the sounds of the album marinate in my mind I noticed a bit of a reduction in the religious and political subject matter that Soulo is oft known for, despite the controversial crucifixion themed cover. Still I felt the album was still very solid giving it a 7.5, but couldn't help but notice how many of his fans were perturbed at his “dumbing it down”. “No not Soulo! He isn’t trying to sell out is he? Is he?” Was it a little light on Ab-Soul’s trademark content? Sure I’d have to say so, but this is only because we have grown to expect so much from Black Hippy philosopher. Throw the album under the microscope and the DNA is still there twisting, winding, and bending.
Just a simple glance at the tracklist and you would find the Christian themed track titles, “Gods Reign”, “Tree of Life”, and “Stigmata”. A little deeper look and you’d find that the references throughout the project to the spiritual and metaphysical are still very much present. Check out some of the excerpts below for a little deeper look into the spirit of the Black Lip Pastor.
All I did was take gangsters to church
Got your lady with literature in her Louis bag
Got your kids studying outside of class
Here the Black Lip Pastor proclaims his ability to enlighten the masses from contrasting backgrounds. The knowledge that he puts in his music whether spiritual or political has a positive influence on his fans. These bars here capture his ability to appeal to people of all different backgrounds in a very simple way.
"Just Have Fun"
I just wanna teach you all about the mind (roll that weed, nigga)
The power in it, the very power of mine (shake that ass, ho!)
It makes sense I take interest in the third eye
Due to my lack of sight, I guess it's a sacrifice
Cause I've already envisioned what the world looks like
So when it's handed to me, I won't need to look twice
In” Just Have Fun” Soulo takes a more metaphysical approach to explain how his bout with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome was really a blessing in disguise, because it led to the development of his vivid imagination. His third eye allowed him to see when his other two failed him. In the face of his condition he knew that what his third eye allowed him to see was soon to become reality. From a metaphysical aspect the third eye is representative of the pineal gland, which when properly activated is believed to lead to a spiritual awakening in the individual.
I carry the cross, if Virgin Mary had an abortion
I'd still be carried in the chariot by stampeding horses
I'm more than a man, I've been died and rose again
Left these holes in my hands, so you know who I am
Stigmata, stigmata, stigmata
That vivid imagination was pivotal to him being the savior of the rap game, as he boldly and controversially reenacts the crucifixion while paying homage to the legendary Nas at the same time. A very audacious statement to say the least, but confidence is the key in this industry.
I ride slow, live fast, small time to big cash
Cut corners, cut loose, cut class, fuck school
Had to learn though, the harder way
Pushing pennies but see a three's a 16 in my sport
Figure deal me I'm filthy, I know it's greedy out here
I told you that but I made my way through it like Moses did with his staff!
This time Ab-Soul parallels himself to the likes of Moses to come up from the bottom to his current stage of success. Rapping isn’t his only skill, he’s actually mastered the art of parting the Red Sea as well. He's adept at side stepping all the pitfalls of life on the road to success.
How the fuck you say I sold my spirit?
I'm still taking blows at the Senate
Claims of Illuminati, I'm just tryna illuminate
Praise to the most high, God, Jah, Allah, Yahweh
Selassie eye and I'm proud to say, I never need a 9 by my waist
Niggas still respect my gangster, celestials respect my space
With conspiracy theories abound Soulo makes a point of illuminating the masses to his stance against the “illuminati”. How could he be a member if these are the same people he boldly takes a stand against? He gets respect from every end of the spectrum, from the G’s to the celestials. This versatility is evident in his music as well, with him repeatedly showcasing his ability to bounce from mad scientist to your average hood dude and back again.
"Dumbed down?" Maybe. Well definitely in comparison to his previous work Control System, but These Days is still Einstein's notebook compared to your average MC's body of work. I'd certainly stay tuned for the Black Lip Pastor's next effort to raise chakras all across the globe. It should be interesting to say the least.