This album threw some fans off, as it sounds very different from Ab-Soul’s previous album, 2012’s Control System. Just when you thought Ab-Soul established his style, he went and switched things up on this album. There are still glimpses of his old style, with his focus on wordplay and thought-provoking lyrics, but These Days sees Ab-Soul sort of emulate the sound of modern mainstream hip-hop. There are a lot of repeated lyrics, less complex rhymes, easy to follow flows, and generally dumbed-down subject matter.
That’s not to say Ab-Soul has become wack, it’s just a different style to get used to. While Control System had a bunch of songs I liked better than anything on here, These Days is a smoother listen from front to back, and generally has a more fun vibe to it. Part of the fun is hearing how songs completely change before they end, almost as if there are hidden extra songs throughout the album. Among these hidden gems is something you don’t see too often: a full-length rap battle at the end of the album with Soulo and Daylyt trading acapella bars in the booth.
With Ab-Soul mimicking the general mainstream hip-hop landscape, there are a few songs on here I’m not really feeling, but it’s an overall solid album. Some of the highlights for me include the verse at the end of “Tree Of Life” where Ab-Soul incorporates the word “soul” in many different ways, ending with “…that was a stretch/ I’m Ab-Soul-lutely the best”. Another is “Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude” using the same beat and style from “Ab-Soul’s Outro” on Kendrick’s Section.80 album. Overall, Ab-Soul shows he can still rap, but for better or for worse he seems to be mostly just having fun on this album.
My Grade: B-
Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #19 on the countdown!