Music Review: Ab-Soul finds purpose after pain on ‘Herbert’

‘Herbert’ by Ab-Soul (Top Dawg Entertainment)

Ab-Soul’s “Herbert” is full of messages. Voicemails from a praying grandma, snippets of encouragement from his entourage. But what defines his latest project is the rapper’s reflection on himself and his life, the work of an acclaimed lyricist. The most beautiful and vulnerable set ever.

The name “Herbert” is named after the man behind the Absoul rap persona, Herbert Anthony Stevens IV. The music, like the Kal Banx-produced “Hollandaise,” takes Ab-Soul back to his childhood. The song talks about memorizing songs by 90s duo Kriss Kross and typing “freestyle” to an internet audience via an AOL dial. -Up.

Now that he’s released his fifth album, the 35-year-old finds music to be all-consuming, but it’s never enough. “Got it hard in the paint/ Gotta do a night ride when they call it a day/ All work, no play, crank up the ball and the chain,” he said. wraps

In the title track “Herbert,” Ab Soul continues to explore his burden, from the rare and painful Stevens-Johnson Syndrome that began at age 10 to dealing with current complications decades later. . “The ophthalmologist said I need a new cornea / I need a cornea more than a coroner,” he rapped in celebration of his survival.

Perhaps that’s what makes this Ab-Soul album stand out. In all the gloom—depression, death—Absoul finds a reason to live, like in the mantra-like “Do Better,” featuring singer Zakharri.

Guest Jhené Aiko brings her spiritual energy as she sings with the soul-baring Ab-Soul on “The Wild Side.” Other guests include Big Sean, who sang the famous verse on “Go Off,” and Joey Bada$$ on the lyrical “Moonshooter.”

Ab-Soul says “they won’t understand Herbert Anthony,” but his latest release is sure to bring fans closer.


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