California’s Top Dawg Entertainment has been busy as hell this year. With Isaiah Rashad’s Cilvia Demo, SZA’s Z, and ScHoolboy Q’s Oxymoron being released earlier this year, and future releases from Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar, TDE is being active and making it’s mark on the game. Enter Carson rapper Ab-Soul. Soulo is following up his critically acclaimed Control System with the highly anticipated These Days…. We’ll see if he is indeed TDE’s “secret weapon”.
1. God’s Reign Featuring SZA; Produced by Purity Ring
Ab-Soul opens with a smooth joint laced with vocals by TDE’s first lady SZA. Soul really drops some bars here, but there’s not too much here. This is a lot of rappin’ of what we already know about the Black Lip Pastor. Smoke to this one G.
2. Tree of Life Produced Curti$$ King & DJ Dahi
BREATHE EASY! Curti$$ and Dahi did their thing on this one. This joint slaps. It came out a while back. This is vintage Soul givin’ fans what they feel. Ab wants to live easy and breezy like the trees do, while smokin’ trees, and gettin’ this green too. There’s a SLICK ass Joey Bada$$ sample from “World Domination”. Soul got a knack for makin’ smokin’ joints (see what I did?). The beat switches and sets up the next joint. I ain’t too mad with it.
3. Hunnid Stax Featuring ScHoolboy Q; Produced by Kenny Beats
THIS HERE SLAPS. Prepare your speakers son. This really isn’t Soul’s lane…which is why they brought everyone’s favorite Crip…this sounds like somethin’ that belongs to Q. This ain’t as dope as “Druggys Wit Hoes Pt. 1” or 2. It still slaps though. Mac Miller brings a lackluster hook here, but this joint still goes. And accordin’ to Puff Daddy (the REAL Puff Daddy…or Sean Combs…or Diddy…you get it), Soul is FINALLY eatin’. Agreed.
4. Dub Sac Produced by Dave Free & Tommy Black
This joint came out a looooooong while back. It really ain’t that hot to me. Soul always gives us bars, but this really isn’t his forte. HOWEVER…at around 3:42 a smoooooooth ass beat comes in. So far there’s a lot of beat changes, for the better. Second half is the Ab-Soul that we know…wait…this is Punch! He gives us somethin’ nice and this half leapfrogs the first part. Punch did his thing.
5. World Runners Featuring Lupe Fiasco & Nikki Jean; Produced by Tae Beast
Okay, now we all know there’s 2 Lupe’s. Lupe gave us F&L…and he gave us The Cool..two bonafide MONSTERS. I know I was curious to see what he gave. Ab gave us him, we know what Soulo will give us. There’s a smoky ass hook. But now we gotta see what Lupe gives us.
Can’t spell Illuminati without Lu can’t spell Lu without ‘u’
Can’t spill blood without blue now ask yourself what is what I do
Let you put that together without glue without screw, fast life
Built a time machine in my past life, a horror story about as long as Fukushima half-life
And mostly I’ll be ghost, and to talk about it have to rhyme into a flashlight
Now that’s a long way from blackface track that they using for your rat race
Lu gave us them bars we used to. This that head hurtin’, dictionary findin’, sleep on it type wordplay. You NEED RapGenius for this here. I love wordplay, and I LOVE this.
6. Nevermind That Featuring Rick Ross; Produced by The Kathy
The not-so chubby nigga Rozay brings in some of his usual braggadocios bars, I’m feelin’ this hook. This is some grown man, smooth, drink with ya lady type music. Soul is swervin’ through different lanes of rap, and this one isn’t bad at all. Gotta give it to The Kathy, whoever that is. I can’t hate on this. Rub on ya lady’s booty for this.
7. TWACT Featuring Jinx & Short Dawg; Produced by DNYC3
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TWACT IS. Imma say that now. BUT if you came lookin’ for mindblowing lyrical miracles here, you gonna skip. My entire trunk shook here. I was walkin’ into work to this and I wanted to jerk (PAUSE) and do all these other dances. Play this on ya radio. Short Dawg does his thing on here…he came out of nowhere. I don’t know who Jinx is, sounds like my LEAST favorite Pokemon. Blame it on Japan’s racist asses (look up the connection). Ab gives us bars here. You boring listeners gonna skip cause y’all wanna hear giant words and whatnot. TWACT.
8. Just Have Fun Produced by Like & Blended Babies
Like and Blended Babies (…) did the thing here. You can have fun with Ab-Soul man. Everything ain’t gotta be all serious. This sounds like some psych space Sci Fi channel music. Roll your weed. Drink your lean. This is an equivalent to ScHoolboy Q’s “Hell Of A Night”. If ya gonna do drugs, be safe son.
NIGGAS TALK MORE THAN BITCHES THESE DAYS…
True story, Soulo. The end of this joint has a smooth ass twist on the beat, and a Migos-esque flow. And it serves as a nice segue..there’s not too much here intiallly, but the end leads to..
9. Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude Featuring Kendrick Lamar; Produced by Terrace Martin
WOW. Ab-Soul sets the record straight for y’all who don’t know what’s happenin’. Re-listen to Section 80. Guess who popped up from the shadows? Kendrick, the GAWD. NOW I KNOW YOU HEARD SECTION 80. This is “Ab-Soul’s Outro” reincarnated. YOU KNOW YA BOY LOVES THIS. Kendrick comes out spittin’ GAS.
These Days I’m a little more focused cause y’all cracked the door
and I kicked it open, yellin’ get the fuck down or I will shoot
I told you *gunshots* not to motherfuckin’ move!
Be another example, I’ll take the whole industry hostage if I have to
I’ll sabotage this game, a good kid? Yeah that’s only in my mama’s eyes
I seen a dead body at five and that shit made me traumatized
So These Days, a little blood on my hands ain’t nothing compared
To hopping out a minivan, with a mini 22 3s and the homie TuTu
Two more YGs
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
These Days it’s only time for rap!
Now the anticipation for the album is TOO high. HiiiPoWeR is in full effect. Quotables everywhere, shots fired, flames all around. Hell yeah Kendrick did his thing. This and “Ab-Soul’s Outro” are EQUAL. It’s too hard to decide. Look at God son. This gave me chills. This made me feel like Shaft (Samuel L.). WOW. WOW…Kendrick wants to make sure y’all ain’t forgot. It’s about these bars son. Kendrick is the best in the game. I can’t even son…this is a GEM.
10. Closure Produced by Sounwave
I don’t know how to feel about this. R.I.P. Alori Joh. You can feel the pain. Take em to church Soul. You gotta get used to this here. It’s not my cup of tea but I know where the boy is comin’ from. This is a joint you cant rate until you relate b.
11. Sapiosexual Produced by J. Cole
Young Cole did his thing on the beat. This is a step up from “Lust Demons” with Jay Rock. Soul wants sex. There ain’t too much to say here. It’s a couple of funny bars but this is just something you roll with. You get ideas for bonin’ your girl from this one.
12. Stigmata Featuring Action Bronson & Asaad; Produced by Rahki
Nas’ presence is all over this joint. If you don’t fool with Nas then you don’t know nothin’ about this here. You gotta do your research. This beat here is a monster, a purebred savage. AND the bars are on point. Peep the wordplay.
Don’t do you dare, cast one stone in air
I’m cracking stone with bare hands, you’re a mere man
I know my stoners here, all my visionaries
Shades in the night, that’s a scary sight
I’m never in the dark though, my squad the brightest circle
Watch with the internet alone I enlighten the whole globe
That’s iTunes from a nigga with astigmatism
Action Bronson comes here and drops a couple gems. Ab-Soul gives us hella gems, and Asaad keeps pace with them. YAWK YAWK YAWK YAWK. I mow the lawn in 2 minutes with this. I wanna shoot a Gatorade commercial to this beat.
13. Feelin’ Us Featuring Jay Rock & RaVaughn; Produced by Skhye Hutch
This is somethin’ smooth here. AND ANOTHER CASE of Jay Rock catchin’ a body. EVERY time he does this. Any song with a TDE member he bodies. I know you feelin it. This is somethin’ smooth for your boys to roll with without gettin’ in trouble. Soul steps out his comfort zone here. I kinda fool with this.
14. Ride Slow Featuring Danny Brown & Delusional Thomas; Produced by Larry Fisherman
This here is kind of spooky. Danny Brown and Ab are a nice combo (“Terrorist Threats”). Daniel isn’t for everyone, but this here he fits. His unorthodox voice and style is excellent. Mac Miller (aka Larry Fisherman) does his thing here man. Mac Miller been hangin’ with TDE and them OF boys and he learned how to create some gold. The nigga with the giant forehead and big lips makes an appearance on the hook as well. Tupac’s eerie lyrics from “Hail Mary” are used here in this equally creepy track. The second half is wild creepy. This aint a joint you can walk in the park at night to, cause Chucky or some slasher might get you. Delusional (aka Mac Miller) gives you some real weird bars here. Check that tape too. I ain’t mad at this at all.
15. W.R.O.H. Featuring JMSN; Produced by Tae Beast
Yeah I sat through the whole joint (23 minutes). I was satisfied but then at about 4:28 I was BLOWN AWAY. Soul and battle rapper Daylyt go AT IT. The bars here go WAY over your head, bring out your RapGenius app. Peep THIS wordplay.
That’s what y’all call street?
No tales from the Crip this evening, he slip
Seems he forgot what the C meant
It’s your dumbass fault that last part was so concrete
But I guess you’d have to be Ken to get that bar beat, pardon me
I bet right about now you feelin’ like Jordan down in the Jordan Downs
In fact it’s crazy that you even play ball to clear your thoughts before raw backwards
And that’s cool, but for this round, save the bull before you let the Jordan downs and Jordan down
THAT’S just the beginning. I sat in wonder as they went in and blew me away (pause) with some bars. I listened 3 times and DIDN’T catch much til I read it. THIS WAS WORTH IT. Sit through it in amazement. Take some time b, get some coffee, go to the bathroom, prepare your mind.
This is Ab-Soul goin’ through different lanes going along with the theme These Days…. You may not like Ab-Soul, but you gotta respect his game. Bars are bars son, no matter who they come from (Drake too…). You feel some pain and you get some laughs, you get hype and you get introspective. The Black Lip Pastor gives us some beauty and leaves us wondering what’s next.
I give These Days… a solid 4/5. Rest In Power to Alori Joh. SOUL!