Ab-Soul Says There Would Be No Kendrick, Drake, Or Cole Without Him

Ab-Soul closed out 2022 with one of the year’s best albums. HERBERT, named among Ambrosia For Heads Top 15 albums of the year, featured Joey Bada$$, Big Sean, Russ, and Punch, among others. The Top Dawg Entertainment LP ends with “GOTTA RAP,” a DJ Premier-produced track that reclaims Soulo’s love for Hip-Hop, even after personal bouts with addiction and self-harm.

Ab now brings his album to NPR‘s Tiny Desk. Joined by a highly-skilled band, the Carson, California MC lays down a beautiful 20-minute set. He performs six songs from HERBERT, as well as beloved catalog cuts such as Control System‘s “Bohemian Grove,” “The Book Of Soul,” and “Terrorist Threats.” The two albums arrived a decade apart, and are widely considered two of the MC’s best works.

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Like the album, Ab-Soul closes the set with “GOTTA RAP.” However, for Tiny Desk, he adds an extra verse with some bold bars, as he flips the title to self-refer as “the God of Rap.

I sold records, broke records, should be in a f*cking almanac / So many lines, y’all should call me back,” he spits, leading in. “Started in a cul-de-sac / Made U-turns, now I make you turn every time you hear me on the track / All they talk about is Kenny, Drizzy and Cole / And I’m inspired by all of them, but honestly, neither one of them can live without A-Soul / That ain’t a diss at all, I’m just claiming where I fit in,” he touts. “I’m complex, I groups the violence with Christ consciousness / I’m tired of being modest, I did it with no pen / Off the top of the dome, I open minds, I’m an oculus / They ain’t played me on stations, radiated in spite of it / I put ni**as on, tryna establish my dominance / This my resurrection like Common Sense My pockets thick, my daughter craziest / Off my rocker, there ain’t a box to place me in / Top Dawg sold his soul, but he’s not an atheist!” The lyrics suggest that the extra verse may be an off-the-top freestyle. In late 2022, Soulo promoted HERBERT with a standout freestyle appearance at The LA Leakers show.

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Ab-Soul has spoken highly of Kendrick Lamar and their brotherhood, despite K-Dot’s 2021 announcement that Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers would subsequently be his final album for the label. Like Drake, Kendrick, and J. Cole, Ab-Soul was a top MC sensation of the late 2000s, early 2010s.

New music from Ab-Soul, including “GOTTA RAP,” as well as songs featuring J. Cole and Drake are currently on the official AFH playlist.

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