Ab-Soul went for broke last time. On his 2012 effort Control System, the California rapper and Black Hippy member revealed his deep-seated paranoia about the illuminati, called for revolution, and grieved the loss of his partner and collaborator Alori Joi, who committed suicide. Compared to that, his latest album These Days… is a victory lap.
The weight of loss and his concerns over the state of the world have not disappeared, but he seems less consumed by them. On “Twact” and “Just Have Fun,” he takes joy in drugs and carnal desires. The hook to the latter goes “Niggas talk more than bitches these days/ and the new drugs got a nigga really feeling trippy these days” — a bit cliché, but Ab sells it with tripped-out wonder in his voice.
Though Kendrick Lamar gets his own moody interlude — a callback to Ab-Soul’s solo track on Lamar’s pre-major label Section 80 — Soul sounds closer to the party-loving Schoolboy Q rather than Top Dawg Entertainment’s world-weary leader. The levity makes the 90-plus minutes length of These Days… breeze past effortlessly. The idea of cruising around town with a new CD is an increasingly outdated idea, but this is a classic riding album. Settle in and be engulfed.