Ab-Soul Speaks In Vivid Detail About His Suicide Attempt

Today (December 16), Ab-Soul released his highly-anticipated HERBERT album. The 18-track Top Dawg Entertainment release finds the Carson, California native aiming to reclaim his post among Hip-Hop’s most thoughtful, technically advanced MCs. The LP is also incredibly personal, with a previously released “Do Better” music video that alluded to a suicide attempt by jumping from a building. That visual portrays those events in graphic detail, before rewinding the sequence.

As the public has learned since “Do Better,” those events are true. Interviews with Vulture and Rolling Stone pointed out that Soulo now walks with a limp, and drew from real-life events in making that song and much of HERBERT. This album follows multiple losses close to him, including collaborators Mac Miller and Doeburger. On HERBERT‘s closer, the DJ Premier-produced “GOTTA RAP,” the veteran spits: “I even tried suicide and I don’t know why / I know better than most that the Soul don’t die / Took a leap, shattered my leg, and lost some teeth / And I’m still standing behind every word I speak.” This offers new details surrounding an event that puts Soul in the company of Bushwick Bill, Lil Wayne, TDE label-mate Isaiah Rashad, and other artists who have been transparent about wanting to end their life, and narrowly avoiding that fate.

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In corresponding with the release of HERBERT, Ab sat down with Charlamagne Tha God for a 70-plus-minute interview. There, he offered more information on what was going on behind the scenes between 2016’s Do What Thou Wilt and this latest LP.

“I pretty much finished the album before I did what I did,” Ab-Soul reveals at the 23:40 mark. Ab is careful not to use the “suicide” word that Charlamagne chooses, but calls it an “incident.” “I just don’t like that word. It’s real; I’m not in denial,” he points out. “How I’m choosing to take it is—and I’m not giving it credit—but it brought me down to a place where I needed to be as vulnerable as possible. And as soon as I said everything I needed to say, I jumped.”

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Notably, Ab suggests that his near-death jump coincided with an addiction. “I took a leap of faith, if you will. And that was the only way I was going to be able to put that vape down, bro,” he continued. “Ain’t nobody going to rehab for a damn vape pen — [rehabilitation therapy is] expensive as hell! But that was the only way I was gonna be able to put that sh*t down, bro. I know that for a fact.” He comes back to the point seconds later: “I feel as though God sat my b*tch-ass down.” Soul says that his smile is artificial after the turn of events. “I ain’t even got my implants yet. My jaw is f*cked up; I’ve got a lot of work to do still. My whole leg is…I’m about 85% [healed].” Ab-Soul says that from his pelvis to his leg, he required extensive reconstructive surgery. “My femur, everything was affected…except my knee. If my knee would have been affected, I might not be walking.” He adds that the jump took place at a freeway overpass and was 50 feet. “I think a car broke my fall. No brain damage…it’s God. Now sit down, shut up, and take it all in, relax.” Soul specifies that although he is in therapy, he has not been formally diagnosed with depression.

Earlier in the interview, Ab-Soul elaborates on the perils of nicotine vaping. “I’ve been smoking cigarettes since I was about 16 years old; I still do. I’m addicted to cigarettes, I do hope to quit one day. [Vaping] was promoted as a better or safer alternative to cigarettes. In turn, it is not. It is causing severe anxiety and depression. I never understood depression until this. I get it now, I can’t even be in the same room as one of those things.” Ab-Soul refuses to promote the vaping product with a name-brand mention.

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Ab-Soul describes his circle and praises their support. The artist says that TDE’s namesake founder was among the first to arrive at the hospital, and refers to him as a “father figure.” “I was lost for a minute; it got gangsta for a second,” Ab explains. He also reveals that during this time, Soul blamed the injury on his poor eyesight, which is related to his being diagnosed with Stevens–Johnson syndrome. Ab-Soul later says he does not drive and is legally blind.

Having suffered losses from suicide, including his high school sweetheart and label-mate Alori Joh and collaborator Capital STEEZ, Ab admits that he knows the reverberating devastation. “I woke up on the ground. ‘Oh yeah, he still here,’” he remembers. “My first thought was, ‘you f*cking idiot”‘ I woke up on the floor, bro. [Somebody] yanked me up, I passed back out and woke up in the hospital.”

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He adds that the event took place after leaving his mother’s residence. “I literally walked from my mom’s house. It was kinda cinematic, too. [I was] on Del Amo Boulevard, my street. The subconscious me was trying to make this cinematic. ‘Oh, he died in Del Amo! He was ‘The King of Carson,’ oh my god!’ It was cinematic, you know what I’m saying?”

The artist insists he is a changed man. “As soon as my family and friends knew I was okay and I explained what happened, I had to make it clear to everybody that I wasn’t a suicidal person,” he says. “I’m still not. That is not it. I felt that… relief. When I knew everybody was dealing with it in their own way and we were okay is when I got back to — I spent a lot of time in recovery, in solitude by myself.”

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Moments later, Ab-Soul reveals that he retraced those steps on Del Amo Boulevard in Carson, as a testament to his current will to live. “That’s how strong my faith is—I can’t even kill me. I’m on God’s time.” He also retracts past sentiments that suicide could be an act of cowardice. “I know understand that it can be beyond us—suicide. I say it and I wear it,” he opines.

At a time when mental health discussion and suicide have been perceived by some as marketing devices, Ab-Soul shares that he wanted his conversation with Charlamagne to be the definitive commentary on the incident. “I do understand if it bleeds it leads,” he acknowledges as well, pushing an independent artist to the top of mainstream discussions. “At first I did not want to discuss it all ’cause it’s nobody’s business. And I battled with…yo, this sh*t really happened to me, bro, you know what I put my mama [and] my people through?” Thus, Ab came forth with the truth, with some assertion from Moosa, the TDE executive who is also Top Dawg’s son as well as longtime friend of Soulo.

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Elsewhere in the interview, Ab-Soul addresses being the only Black Hippy member who did not sign with a major label. At 56:00, Ab reacts to Kendrick Lamar (and manager Dave Free’s) exit from TDE. “I don’t know if there was a particular reason why [they left]; I woke up to the news too. I kinda feel like it’s not really any of my business, so I just keep it like [this], ’cause me and [Kendrick Lamar] are still very close, and I’m not goin’ anywhere. Ain’t nobody sayin’ nothin’ about it, so I’ma just stay out of it. I don’t think it’s a problem,” he comments.

New music from Ab-Soul, as well as Kendrick Lamar, Joey, Russ, and others is currently on the official Ambrosia For Heads playlist.

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#BonusBeat: Ab-Soul’s episode of Grit by AFH from 2012: