Ab-Soul Freestyles & Breaks Down His Exceptional BARS For Ras Kass (Video)
Today (December 9), Ab-Soul released Do What Thou Wilt, his first solo album in two years. He stopped by Sway in the Morning to discuss the new LP, and the interview included a very special guest in the form of Ras Kass, who called in to hear a Soulo record he unknowingly inspired, way back in 1996. It wouldn’t be a proper showcase of Ab-Soul’s talent without a freestyle, and Heads are treated to a heaping serving of healthy bars from the TDE MC.
At the top of the interview, Sway asks Soulo to expand upon the album’s title, bringing up some of the backstory behind the title phrase, which comes from occultist writer and thinker, Aleister Crowley, famously interested in satanism and other dark arts. “You’re the first one to bring up the satan thing, and I’m so glad you did,” Soulo tells Sway, “’cause you know it’s all church with me.” He continues, “Do What Thou Wilt immediately sounds like ‘free will’ in Old English. Aleister Crowley has been influential throughout music and entertainment, and ideology and philosophy, journalism,” he explains of the inspiration behind the album’s title. “[It’s a quote from] one of his books, The Book of the Law. The quote that stood out to me was ‘the righteous will remain righteous, the filthy will remain filthy,'” he shares, before adding “I cannot deny his influence. He’s been linked with a lot of wicked, ill, satanic, evil, occultish type things. But he also acknowledges that the righteous will remain righteous, and the filthy will remain filthy. So him acknowledging that, alone, lets me still ask ‘what would Jesus do?'” Sway follows up by saying “so you’re not worshiping Satan, basically” and Ab brushes that off, saying, simply, “Nah.”
Sway turns the conversation to one of DWTW‘s “Threatening Nature,” which Soulo explains is “an exact recreation of [Ras Kass’s] ‘Nature of the Threat.'” Taking a cue from a breakout 1996 record from a fellow Carson, California wordsmith, Soulo takes a similar approach in lyrical complexity, but he shares with Sway et al that he didn’t play it for his idol before releasing it. “I wanted him to hear it like everybody else,” he explains, which is when he learns that he’s about to have his chance to play it for him. At the 12:13 mark, Ras Kass hops on the phone and joins in on the conversation, first explaining that his 1996 song was meant to be an exercise in understanding the patterns of White supremacy he noticed were happening throughout history.”
For several minutes thereafter, Ab breaks down “Threatening Nature” bar-by-bar with Sway’s direction, and what ensues is a brilliant example of inter-generational Hip-Hop artists communicating with one another through lyrics. Some of the bars Sway asks Soulo to focus on include “Way back when I was in grade school, I learned about history. But what about her story—did anybody ask?,” “you tryna fuck a model, when I’m tryin’ to deflower Queen Elizabeth,” “We went from pickin’ cotton for men in wigs and stockings to liberation and renaissance – what is this nonsense?!,” and “you singin’ hymns in church, I’m lookin’ for the hers/In 66 books in the Bible, they ain’t let a lady say one word.”
At the 28:00 mark, Ab goes into an acappella freestyle, and Heads will not be surprised to learn it is chock-full of bars, both cerebral and absurd (including the particularly memorable “cows jumping over moons, I’m Dr. Seuss with lots of loot/plethora of Betty Boops in my call log/I caught Mother Goose milly rockin’ at the slut walk“).
Elsewhere in the interview, Ab-Soul explains why DWTW “is a woman-appreciation album,” explains his personal religious views, his favorite verse of his own, and more.