KUMD Album Review: Ab-Soul

Jan 4, 2017

Credit Ab-Soul

Ab-Soul | Do What Thou Wilt

Carson, California, rapper, Ab-Soul has long been known for embracing all parts of his consciousness. Now he’s back. 

His newest release, Do What Thou Wilt, is arguably his most well written, intricate album to date.

Do What Thou Wilt has been referred to as a love story. That does not mean it is full of ballads. Instead, it is an unconventional tale that explores war, sexism, religion, drugs and family from a personal and global perspective.

The album has a very obvious theme of feminism. In fact, Soul goes as far as to say that even God was a girl. This could represent how much his ex-girlfriend meant to him.

Alori Joh — A beautiful, willful and powerful woman — was Ab Soul’s longtime girlfriend. The couple met in high school and went on to pursue their dreams together. An artist herself, Alori collaborated with Ab Soul, Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar on a number of songs. It seemed that the couple was destined for success.

Sadly, for reasons unknown, Alori took her own life in 2012 — leaping from a radio tower. Four years later, Soul continues to reel from the ripple effects. Do What Thou Wilt is Ab Soul’s way of honoring Alori’s life and legacy.

Two years since the release of his last album, These Days, Soul is fresh outta the gate and he is not messing around. Do What Thou Wilt opens with a track titled “Raw (Backwards)” in which he declares war on a number of rappers, “Aye, man, what’s happenin'? Another baptism by Pastor Black Lip. I'm mashin' across the masses. My movement massive. The Backwoods with the gas in it. You roll the raw, I spell it backwards.” Soul is angry that he has not received the respect that he deserves. After all, he is as real as it gets. Unlike the majority, Soul speaks from the heart; he takes pride in being authentic. The second track, “Braille,” reinforces this message.

The third track, "Huey Knew THEN,” marks the beginning of Soul’s story about Alori. The famous theme song for the television show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air plays in the background as Soul says he is going to tell us the story about when his life was turned upside down. Perhaps this could symbolize the day that he lost Alori.

This is followed by a number of tracks about women, such as, “Womanogamy”, “Wifey vs Wifi” and “God’s a Girl?” Though vulgar at times, these songs show Soul’s deep admiration and appreciation for women.

As Do What Thou Wilt goes on, there is a definite change of vibes from beginning to end. The themes for the tracks in the beginning of the album are very dark and aggressive, possibly symbolizing the anger and depression that Soul felt in regard to his loss. The themes for the tracks toward the end are lighter and calmer, possibly symbolizing the closure and acceptance that Soul feels regarding his loss.

Soul featured some familiar Top Dog Entertainment names on this album, such as, Schoolboy Q, Punch, and SZA. Mac Miller is a frequent collaborator with TDE, so it was no surprise to see his name on the album as well. The features were very well chosen and did not take the spotlight away from Soul.

Overall, this latest release is the sound of Soul growing, reaching, and experimenting. It is a portrayal of trials and tribulations. Most importantly, Do What Thou Wilt is Ab-Soul’s way of professing to the world that no matter how bad things may seem, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.