Ab-Soul Confirms Trying To Take His Life
One of 2022’s most impressive songs is Ab-Soul’s “Do Better,” featuring Zacari. Six years removed from his last album, the Top Dawg Entertainment mainstay made an inspirational video single that leads fans to his fifth LP, HERBERT, which arrives this Friday (December 16).
In the song, Soulo admits to battling depression: “Shades stuck to my face, hoodie glued to my head / Hidin’ from the same world that made me who I am / Depressed, can’t even get out of bed / Too blessed to be so stressed / I do all this sh*t, just to say, ‘Get off my d*ck’ / Mixed emotions prohibit my focus / This what you wanted, what’s wrong with you? / You don’t make sense / Feel like I can flip at any moment / Faces playin’ and it’s f*ckin’ with me / Doin’ drugs was just a war with boredom, but it’s sure to get me / Lord forgive me.”
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The lyrics continue: “Wear the crown of thorns for sport / I’m just waiting for a stone to hit me / Relationship on the rocks / My family all concerned / My homie’s still on the block / Getting it off the curb / I’m stricken by survivor’s guilt / I’m getting it off of words / Word / Come on, Herb.”
The black-and-white music video, captioned “a recollection of thoughts from Ab-Soul,” alludes to the Carson, California native killing himself, before undoing the damage. In a voice over, Ab says, “I’m just grateful to be alive,” and “I’m just grateful to be able to share my testimony,” before footage of the MC revealing that he’s cried enough about an issue, so that he now chooses laughter. A sequence also finds him apparently visiting a grave site at a mausoleum.
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Since the song released, Ab called “Do Better” and its repetitive chorus a statement of affirmation. “Life is as long as it short,” he told Genius in a recent episode of Verified. In that same video, Soul said “depressed” is a play on “deep rest” in the passage, a figure of speech he credits to actor Jim Carrey. He also says that the section of lyrics references “Mixed Emotions” from Control System a decade ago. The artist also spoke of late friend and collaborator Mac Miller, who died of a drug overdose in 2018. He also stressed that the song is about self-love as a means to properly love others.
Now, in an interview with Rolling Stone‘s Paul Thompson, Ab-Soul explained the remarks, and suggested that the suicide attempt in the music video reflects a real-life event. “Most of what you’ve heard, I wrote before … it,” he said, speaking to the moment. Thompson’s writing refers to a limp now found in Ab-Soul’s step. At this quote, the journalist writes, “And so, the limp.” There is no further elaboration, though it conjures thoughts set against the music video treatment. “I just wanna make it clear: You see me smiling, but it’s not funny. I think that’s just my way of healing from it.” “I just wanna make it clear: You see me smiling, but it’s not funny. I think that’s just my way of healing from it.” He added, ““We’re all going through things, all of us. Me sharing my testimony — if it doesn’t help, it might let you know you’re not the only one going through it,” he said. “That’s what ultimately gives me the courage to put it out there.” Logic, an artist Ab-Soul has worked with, was Grammy-nominated for his 2017 anthem, “1-800-273-8255.” Using the hotline number, that Def Jam Records song was intended to bring suicide prevention awareness.
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Besides Mac Miller, Ab-Soul’s life has been marred by losses. In early 2012, Ab’s musical collaborator, label-mate and high-school girlfriend Alori Joh died from suicide. The MC intimately addressed the pain of that death on “Book Of Soul” as well as on Vic Mensa’s “Holy Holy.” That same 2012, Pro Era’s Capital Steez died in a manner portrayed in “Do Better.” In defense of Steez, Soulo verbally checked Troy Ave in 2016.
HERBERT is said to feature Russ, Joey Bada$$, and Punch, among others. DJ Premier is one of the LP’s producers.
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#BonusBeat: “Do Better” and other songs by Ab-Soul (as well as SZA, Kendrick Lamar, and Joey Bada$$) are currently on the Ambrosia For Heads playlist: