20 August 2012

Review: Ab-Soul - #controlsystem

Ab-Soul, Abstract, Asshole

Just a few words spread across the hook of Track Two that illustrate the mindstate of the "Top Dawg Under Dawg." When you are a part of a crew of four up and coming west coast juggernauts and haven't received the notoriety the rest of your team has, it only makes sense to hop on the scene with an album that blows the minds of critics and fans alike.

Ab-Soul, 1/4 of the Black Hippy crew, does just that with #controlsystem, his fourth full-length project in as many years. This album, much like his "Long Term" series prior, challenges the listener to think beyond the surface and use their third-eye and acute ear heavily. Nothing about this album is to be taken at face value, as Soul is far too advanced of an artist to present a basic project to his fans. As each member of the Black Hippy crew has their own style, don't expect the same type of lyrical destruction that you would get from Kendrick Lamar. Ab-Soul's projects are more about the depth of his subject matter, even though he will still bust your ass with rewind-worthy punchlines every now and then. He tackles subjects such as rebelling against the church, the government, and indirectly asking the listener to be aware of how the "sheep" are slowly being controlled. Standout songs like "ILLuminate," "Terrorist Threats," and "A Rebellion" could also be seen as shots at the fabled organization known as The Illuminati.

The majority of the album takes you on a marijuana-induced onslaught against politics in a way no other artist ever has. The rest of the album is a somber tribute to the late Alori Joh, longtime TDE collaborator who committed suicide earlier this year. She was an R&B artist on the Top Dawg roster and is featured on this album, as well as nearly every other Black Hippy and TDE project prior. Alori was also Ab-Soul's girlfriend, and the entire album is dedicated to her. He uses her passing as inspiration, and his love for her is no more evident than on the track "The Book Of Soul," a heartfelt ode to her life and how strong their bond was.

The finale, "Black Lip Bastard" brings the entire Black Hippy crew together to top this album off right. Throughout everyone's verse, you can hear Kendrick in the background making it known that TDE is here to stay, and that they don't care what any other crew is doing because they will end up on top of the game. There's something special when all four members link up for a track; the camaraderie they have, and how their cadences bounce off one another in a way the flows perfectly is truly amazing. One might feel that Kendrick is lyrically the strongest, but on this track it's Jay Rock that shines with lines like "I'm the silent assassin of the four-headed dragon, black hippy blastin a 50 out the back of the benz wagon." It's a great way to end an already impressive album, but don't be surprised if some of the subject matter goes over your head at first. This album was meant for multiple run-throughs. You will get something new from it every single time, which will naturally allow you to enjoy it more as well.

There is an unspoken rotation amongst Black Hippy where, annually, each artist drops a new project not too long after the last member. This has remained consistent through their mixtapes and indie albums since 2009. Next up is Kendrick Lamar with "Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City." Let's see what he do wit it...

No comments:

Post a Comment