Ab-Soul Talks Control System, Black Hippy, and Jay-Z
That’s really unfortunate. I’m sorry that I asked you that question.
Nah, it’s cool bro.
Tell me about “Double Standards.” The song details the woman’s side of the story, which isn’t often discussed in rap.
I honestly think that in this day and age, it’s just kind of a tricky thing. We all kind of want to be with different people, especially guys. Something says it’s not correct to do that. I can’t put my finger on it. But, I guess, in one line, “To my niggas having women as what you just do/To do the women having niggas is what a slut do.” That’s the best way I could put it. That’s not an even exchange. That’s what they call a double standard.
I think that’s something that we’re all aware of, but I guess being a male and trying to be dominant, we just really don’t care to speak on it. That’s cool or whatever and I’m not knocking anybody for doing that. Just do whatever makes you happy in this life for real. But if it was up to me, I think things would be a little fairer. I just really don’t feel like I’m too much different from a woman. Pause.
What track stands out to you most on the album?
Honestly, I thought “Pineal Gland” joint was pretty clever. I think once I did that record, I knew exactly where I was going with this project. When I did “Pineal Gland”, it was just like, “Oh yeah. Okay, I see it now. I see what I’m doing now.”
What is it about that track that you felt that way?
The best way I could describe that record is holographic. Because DMT is excreted from your pineal gland every night during heavy REM sleep, but people are smoking it. So, at first listen, with the entire drug use and crazy things going on you would think that I’m smoking when in actuality, it was all a dream. I swear it never happened. It was just a big story about a crazy-ass dream. I thought that’s really what I was doing, where I was going with the project. I wanted you to think you were hearing something, but there was something else going on completely different.
Moving away from your album, I want to ask you about your eyes. When do you actually take your glasses off?
I take them off all the time. But, like flash photography, I can’t do. Cameras in my face, I can’t do. My eyes are really low; because I’ve had a few surgeries my eyes are just kind of beat. My eyelids are beat so they’re droopy and I’m smoking weed so they’re completely closed when you look at me. So it’s just best I just keep them on. When ain’t nobody in my face, I got ‘em off. When I’m out like at a show and out doing an event and people is flashing cameras and stuff, I just got to have them on.
How did that affect you as a kid growing up?
It just made me peculiar. I got Steven Johnson syndrome and it is internal and external fever. So, I’m really swelled up. My eyes were swollen shut. I lost my lip skin. So, when they grew back—when the skin grew back it grew back darker. So, I’m 11 years old, in middle school, kind of looking like a weed head. And I got like this curly hair, this straight slick hair. And I even had to wear shades to school, even more so when I was younger. I’m still healing in a lot of ways. It’s just something that people just knew me by. People from my hood just know me [as] the dude with the shades on and the black lips. Yeah, Black Lip Bastard. Being a kid, sure people teasing you about it at first, but it makes your skin thick. So, once I started running with it, it just worked for me. I said, “Well, fuck it then. Yeah my lips are black. Yeah, aight.” Now it’s cool. Now I’m talking to you.
Tell me about Black Hippy. Why the name Hippy for the group?
I remember Q was just referring to himself as a hippie for a while. He was just smoking a lot of weed and he was just calling himself a hippie. So, when it came around time for [it], [we all] agreed on, actually making the collective a group. It was coming down to coming up with a name, you know, “hippie” stood out. I wasn’t even there when they were coming up with it. They just brought it to me when I got to the studio and I think just throwing that black behind it, it may have been random, but it just kind of makes a lot sense on a lot of levels. ‘Cause, when you think about “hippie”, you think about these, no war and the guy sitting Indian style in the grass. But when you throw black in front of that it’ll represent everything. Not just the peace, but you could add some war, too. Even [hippies] doing what they were doing, they were rebelling against the government. They were at war with the government. [And black is] the original color.
Is Black Hippy’s vision closer to Pharcyde or N.W.A.?
Black Hippy is a collective of everything that was great. You could probably hear bits and pieces of everybody in us. I just think that [we’re] somebody willing to take a stand and pay that homage and try to emulate, rather than imitate, and go further and take it. Be daring enough to try to take it a level higher. So, you’re going to hear some Pharcyde. You’re going to hear some Souls of Mischief. You’re going to hear some N.W.A. You’re going to hear some Fugees. You’re going to hear all of that ‘cause we represent the same culture. It’s just 2012.
What’s the current status with Black Hippy and its affiliation with Aftermath?
Well, unfortunately, as liberal as I am, I’m not at liberty to speak on that at this current moment. But, everything is definitely working out in our favor and it’s going to be a great summer.