TDE is planning to release six projects this year and they are off to a great start. After Isaiah Rashad, SZA and ScHoolboy Q, next in line is Ab-Soul. Fans were speculating that something was wrong within the label when Soul threatened to release his music without anyone’s consent—”I’m this close to leakin my shit like its a mixtape…,” he tweeted in May—but TDE and Soulo have worked out their issues and righted the ship. With his next project, These Days…, set for a June 24 release, Ab-Soul stopped by the XXL offices to talk about the recording process, his TDE brothers and where he’s been for so long. —Eric Diep
XXL: You’ve been quiet this year. What’s going on?
Ab-Soul: Business strategy. I’ve had great friends, though. I’ve had some great special guest appearances here and there. I did something with Common, everybody is talking about that. I did something with Lupe. A lot of guys. Action Bronson, Smoke DZA. I’ve been bouncing around a bit. Shout out to all the homies, keeping me afloat.
What’s the inspiration behind the title, These Days…?
It’s kind of like self-explanatory. I just wanted it to be a little time capsule of the last couple of years since my absence. The vibe of music and life right now like the last couple of years.
How do you feel about fans thinking that your Control System might be better than These Days…?
Just want my old shit. I don’t throw around the word “pressure” or “fear” too often. It’s all good. Shit’s hot. They’ll fuck with it.
How’s the recording process so far?
It was fun. I turned it in now. I recorded most of it at Mac Miller’s house. Very nice house in LA. We had a lot of fun. That’s rap camp. [Laughs] He’s moving, too, unfortunately. He’s upgrading, but we had a lot of fun in that red room. Very psychedelic, you could lose track of time. Just open the door and it’s daylight. People like recording there ’cause of the vibe. All the artists you named [ScHoolboy Q, Vince Staples], great artists. We just go in there and have fun.
What is the tone you are trying to set for this album?
I definitely want to set as many tones as possible. With this one, I want to try and set as many bars, touch as many bases as possible. Some dark shit. Some bright shit. Some grey shit.
Do you ever think when you are recording that you are trying to make a song for the radio?
Lightly. You can kind of hear a beat that you would kind of think the radio would support for sure. Not like, “Gotta make a radio song. Country song. Pop song.” It’s not exactly along that grid like that.
What was the strategy behind putting out “Stigmata” first?
I just felt like after releasing the title, ’cause “Dub Sac” and “Tree Of Life” also appear. I just think after releasing the title, I just think it was a great record to give you an idea about where I’m going with this. It’s kind of like my cornerstone record of the project. Kind of really gets to the core of the album.