The return of Ab-Soul has been one for the historical past books; displaying conquer a sequence of trials and tribulations by means of the world’s darkest interval and dwelling to inform the story.
It had been a scorching minute since we had final heard from the black lip bastard himself as he took a while off after the discharge of his 2016 file, Do What Thou Wilt. Proper when it seemed prefer it was the second soul brother’s time to return, the world entered quarantine for a lethal pandemic. Coupled with points of non-public loss, drug habit, and even suicide makes an attempt, it appeared like Soul was continually confronted with a set of endless trials that examined his power. His newest file serves as a relic of victory, proving these seemingly unwinnable battles will be triumphed upon and brought on one by one.
Titled after his forename, HERBERT is probably the most private assortment of Ab-Soul’s life inside his catalog, marking the shit from his hypothetical theses in direction of the realm of actuality and life.
Following the discharge of his 2012 breakthrough file, Management System, it was clear that Soul took an entire left flip compared to his TDE-affiliated friends. Fairly than throw out the billboard-lurking classics that every member dabbled in, the black-lip pastor clearly had his personal knack for deeper ideas by means of this artwork, main him to delve deeper into hypotheticals somewhat than dwelling within the second. For the primary time because the 2012 underground blockbuster, Soul is in his most clear state, laying out totally different elements of his life which have taken the wheel over his hiatus.
The file begins off on a excessive notice as Soul displays upon his prolonged break and the way it has intertwined along with his profession as an artist, main with a scripture that transitions right into a melancholic intro. After hitting the halfway level into the tune, the tempo shifts solely as a monologue on how Ab-Soul’s success didn’t meet business expectations seemingly fuelled the hearth. Soul even goes on to say (“First they love me, then they hate me, then they love me once more / I’m scratchin’ my head, I’m rubbin’ my chin / This ain’t the way in which it was imagined to be, supposedly, I’m near an finish / Don’t push me, I’m near the sting, I’m no rookie”) as his opening strains to each halves of the file.
From there on out, Ab-Soul locks in, rapping at a caliber we’ve by no means heard him attain earlier than. The degrees of transparency that had been reached helped elevate Soul to new heights as he strikes a brand new steadiness to unfastened lyricism and music structuring (a medium that lyrical heavyweights all the time struggled to hit). For each “HOLLANDAISE” or “GOODMAN” we additionally see a “DO BETTER” and “FALLACY”, proving that Soul was able to reaching that medium. Nevertheless, the actual eye-catcher got here within the type of a DJ Premier-produced bar-fest, titled “GOTTA RAP”, which felt like a definitive Ab-Soul file. The daring assertion within the refrain shows a extra assertive facet to Ab-Soul as he raps over a Preemo beat in his conventional type (“I prefer to name myself the God of rap / However actually I simply gotta rap”).
Sonically talking, Soul manages to strike all corners as effectively, ranging throughout totally different types from head-nodding beats to soothing instrumentals. Ab-Soul shows such range as he adapts to the combination of instrumentals, effortlessly flipping them into concrete information with such profound depth. Although the album is at his greatest when Soul will get his palms on the spacey, obscure-sounding information; the lead singles, “MOONSHOOTER” & “GANG’NEM” function becoming examples as they vastly differ in sound however emit the identical free-spirited really feel on file. Ab-Soul has all the time thrived alongside the unconventional information and his presence on HERBERT nonetheless exhibits signs of his unorthodox mindset.
Soul upped the ante and wager on himself in a time when he wanted it probably the most, resulting in him delivering his greatest efforts so far. In comparison with his final two information—Do What Thou Wilt and These Days—many feared that Ab-Soul hit a bump within the street. But it surely’s clear the prolonged time away from music helped for the higher as HERBERT exhibits the Carson pastor take steps in the appropriate route. Among the finest touches on the album had been the prolonged variations of the lead singles. Each “HOLLANDAISE” and “MOONSHOOTER” acquired modifications with “HOLLANDAISE” getting a beat swap transitioning into an additional verse and “MOONSHOOTER” receiving a Joey Badass function.
Soul pours every thing left in him onto this canvas, making for an emotional pay attention when taking into account the struggles he’s swept beneath the rug. From dropping a few of his closest buddies to surviving a suicide try, you possibly can’t assist however really feel emotional while you see Soul acknowledge these demons on information like “DO BETTER” and “HERBERT”, going so far as revealing: “Hassle on my thoughts, I used to be attempting to not lose it / Prime on my line ’bout new music / Did a bit rehab, want a bit extra / I’m an addict, acquired some habits, everyone know”. Admittedly, the size of the file can appear to be a drag, experiencing a minor drag within the center, however the intimacy of the file is sufficient to hold listeners engaged for the total journey.
Ab-Soul runs his marketing campaign for one of the best comeback of the last decade with HERBERT, really returning in one of the best type of himself. Soul caters to utterly no person however himself, providing an trustworthy perspective on the previous, current and way forward for the Carson native.
8.5 / 10
Finest tracks: “MOONSHOOTER”, “GANG’NEM”, “FOMF”, “MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE”, “GOODMAN”, “DO BETTER”, “FALLACY”