“Said I was the underdog, turns out I’m the secret weapon,” boasts Ab-Soul in the intro track of his new album Control System. One fourth of the Black Hippy movement, Soul has been a steady contributor to the team’s success with solid collabs on Section.80 alongside Kendrick Lamar and partner in crime ScHoolboy Q on Habits & Contridictions. In his most recent solo endeavor, Control System, Soul craftily proves that he is indeed a potent weapon on a team full of heavy artillery.
Throughout the release, Ab-Soul gives the listeners colorful displays of lyricism over textbook Top Dawg Entertainment sound. With Ali at control of the helm with top notch engineering, the shades-wearing rhymer delivers a vocal style punctuated by dramatic swings in delivery. AS does a great job representing the common man’s thoughts on everyday issues. He enlists Tae Beast, Sounwave, Willie B, Dave Free and more to create a project with a combination of eerie and soulful beats throughout.
Ab Soul wisely selects collaborative partners for the project, as everyone seems to deliver at the right place at the right time on their respective tracks. With “Terrorist Threats,” a track on which Soul mocks the benefits of gang unification, he enlists XXL Freshman Danny Brown for a very creative verse. Showing off the depth of the Black Hippy squad, Soul brings in all four members for the “Black Lip Bastard (Remix),” as forming a voltron-like beast. When in need of a female touch to a track, Soul brings in TDE regular Jhene Aiko for “Soulo Ho3,” and fallen vocalist Alori Joh for “A Rebellion” and “Empathy.”
The bushy-haired MC truly finds himself within this album. On the first listen, many may overlook the depth of the messages from Soul, due to his less agressive approach in the delivery of his bars in comparison to his label mates. Deeper indulgences, though, allow Soul to capture with his words, kicking couplets like, “Just imagine if Einstein got high and sipped juice/Broke rules/Got pussy and beat up rookies on pro-tools,” comparing his skills to Albert Einstein.
Throughout Control System, Ab-Soul maintains a cool, calm and collected, making his message stand out: that admist all the madness of the system, you are still in control, and so is he. Soul also solidifies that his role as least recognizable among the TDE crew up to this point certainly isn’t for lack of skill, and playing the background won’t last long after this release. —Christian Mordi @mordi_thecomeup.