Rapper Ab-Soul brings unique style at World Beat Center

by Ryo Miyauchi

In the past few years, the Los Angeles rap label Top Dawg Entertainment has been hitting it big in the rap scene, popularly mentioned alongside the current powerhouse of rapper Kendrick Lamar. But TDE is a rap collective beyond Lamar, and it houses a number of other talented West Coast rappers. One of those overlooked talents is Ab-Soul, who has been increasingly more visible in the scene since releasing his latest album, “Control System,” in 2012, Ab-Soul will be performing in San Diego on Jan at Porter’s Pub.

While being a signee of TDE, Ab-Soul is part of the group Black Hippy, a loose group consisting of other TDE signees: Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock. The four members of Black Hippy collaborate frequently, contributing guest verses for each of their respective projects. Ab-Soul’s early highlight was as a featured rapper in Lamar’s song “Ab-Soul’s Outro,” included at the end of Lamar’s name-making 2011 album, “Section. 80.” Before releasing his album in the same year, Ab-Soul also contributed to Schoolboy Q for “Druggys Wit Hoes Again” for Q’s 2012 album, “Habits and Contradictions.”

Ab-Soul’s style resides somewhere between that of the introspective Lamar and the party-driven Schoolboy Q. Much like Lamar, Ab-Soul stresses complex, technical execution but maintains a much looser delivery. While he mainly covers LA life similar to his TDE labelmates, he writes about the life with a more colorful angle. In “Control System,” Ab-Soul sounds part party emcee and part conspiracy theorist. On one track, he’s mixing alcohol. Then the next track has the rapper plotting a coup against the government. His psychedelic and sometimes paranoid details and concepts make him a unique voice in rap.

There han’t been any word on a new record by Ab-Soul. However, he has been contributing many guest verses in the past few years. Many of his recent features have been for artists outside his collective, such as Mac Miller and Joey Bada$$. New material or not, Ab-Soul’s San Diego show at Porter’s Pub should have the rapper bringing both laid back raps and manic anthems.

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