Soul’s Philosophies: Ab-Soul (of Black Hippy) [Interview]
Vancouver, BC – During a recent stop in Vancouver on his These Days Tour, Black Hippy/Top Dawg emcee Ab-Soul and his crew huddled around the project space at Fortune Sound Club for a post soundcheck cool out. His first headlining show in Vancouver, Soul had a decently sized posse, which included Dreamville artist and tour opener Bas, posted up, smoking loud and patiently chilling awaiting show time. Dressed in all black from head to toe with dark shades covering his Vancouver chronic blessed eyeballs, Soul had an infectious calmness surrounding him that seemed to keep the room’s energy in-line.
Our West Coast team was in the cut and were graciously awarded their request at an interview. The conversation included a little puff-puff passing and some interesting topics such as King Of The Dot, battle rap, These Days and positive mind states. Oh, and which Ninja Turtle he relates to most. Check out KassKills’ conversation with Ab-Soul after the jump.
Photo: KassKills for HipHopCanada
“I was voted most likely to become a star in high school. People always known me for rappin’.” – Ab-Soul
Interview conducted by KassKills for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Thanks for hanging with us, Ab-Soul. How are you liking Vancouver?
Ab-Soul: I’ve been to Vancouver every year for the last four years, since 2011 when I came out with Murs. I come every year. I came with Murs first then I came with Kendrick then Q – he was supposed to come but he couldn’t get through but I did my part. I came with Joey… Vancouver is dope, everybody got across the border today.
HipHopCanada: It’s your first headlining show in Vancouver.
Ab-Soul: It’s my first headlining, yeah.
HipHopCanada: You’re on the These Days Tour right now – what are some of the major differences you’ve noticed in touring solo versus touring as support?
Ab-Soul: I mean, honestly I think it was gradual from the first time I came. It’s been a gradual thing as far as audience and response wise. I feel like I was conditioned for this type of impact.
HipHopCanada: You notice the love getting stronger in cities like Vancouver?
Ab-Soul: Absolutely. Canada in general. I think our Canadian fan base is large because it took us a while to get over here anyway, in the first place. It’s been love ever since I came over. They were waiting for us.
HipHopCanada: So let’s get into a little KOTD (King Of The Dot) talk…
Ab-Soul: You hear that? King Of The Dot is huge; battle rap is huge right now. My first battle that I went to was King Of The Dot – shout out to Lush One.
HipHopCanada: You attended a KOTD event this summer. Tell me about your first introduction to KOTD?
Ab-Soul: I’ve been following battle rap for a long time. Me and Daylyt are real cool. We battled on my album, he’s on my album. We did a one round battle on my album and that was just me capturing These Days. I feel like battle rap is as popular as it’s ever been, today. With Total Slaughter it’s getting real popular, you know? And I wanted to incorperate that into my album. After me and Daylyt built that relationship, they had a battle in the area and we finally wanted to go see one, live. We was cool with just watching it for a while until me and Daylyt got cool and I really wanted to go see it live.
HipHopCanada: Would you ever battle during an event?
Ab-Soul: No. It’s not about that, see battle rap is a culture. That’s boxing, it’s like boxing, know what I’m sayin’? I have respect for the sport so I will contribute to the sport by encouraging artists but…you know what I’m sayin’? That’s just me in general, there’s no set formula for these things.
HipHopCanada: How do you feel about artists like Cassidy taking on the battle rap scene as it stands today?
Ab-Soul: See that’s what I’m saying, like, I’ve been watching battle rap since that time period when Cassidy was hot, Murda Mook and Lux first when at it. That was a very pivotal time in hip-hop. 106 & Park, Freestyle Friday, that was real pivotal. I feel like he has the right to do that, he comes from that era so he has the right to do that. Me personally, I just wanted to do that to capture These Days, you know? With DAY-lyt, know what I’m sayin’?
Photo: Cherchez for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: Take us through a typical day for you, These Days.
Ab-Soul: Wake up, you know, smoke some weed, brush my teeth. Smoke some weed, eat some food, smoke some weed. I probably chill with the homies but since I’m on tour and shit, around that time I’d be getting ready for a meet & greet of some sort. Shake some hand, you know, meet the promotors and those type of things. Then we get ready for the show, smoke some more weed.
HipHopCanada: So now that you’re gaining a more mainstream following your life is kind of an open book, people want to know more and more about you…
Ab-Soul: You know what? I’ve been thinking about that a lot too lately, These Days. I think it’s becasue I grew up in retail, in costumer service. I grew up having to talk to everybody, having to sell to everybody so now that I can just sell me, it’s fun. It’s not even a sale, it’s really just me being me. Just being a nice guy. Just being honest. I was honest then too but you had to look at it as sales, as costumer service. Costumer’s alwasy right, you know? Service with a smile. Those type of things so it’s just kinda in me. In my DNA.
HipHopCanada: Were you always into music and rhyming growing up or were there other things you were more passionate about?
Ab-Soul: I wasn’t really sold on being an artist until high school, my senior year. I was going to do the college thing originally.
HipHopCanada: What were you going to study in college?
Ab-Soul: I dunno. I was somewhere between law and engineering. Somewhere between some cool shit like that and where my mom would be happy. I wasn’t really searching into it like that though. I dunno, around 11th grade, 12th grade I was just like “yeah. This is something I want to do”. I was always known; I was always the rapper.
HipHopCanada: Did you battle on the playground?
Ab-Soul: Not even battling but just really known for rapping. Like I had songs up on Soundclick first, take it back. I was making songs, doing shit like that. I was voted most likely to become a star in high school. People always known me for rappin’. So I guess that maybe just hindered me, like “oh well, I mid-as-well go long term with it.”
HipHopCanada: So a few months back SZA rolled through this venue and we got to talking and smoking on this couch and she mentioned she really respects you for you philosophies. What roll do you see yourself playing within TDE?
Ab-Soul: I’m like Donatello. For real. You probably want to come play your joints for me get my condolence.
HipHopCanada: Donatello was the smartest but also the most chill, right? So do you find people often respect your words and opinions?
Ab-Soul: Or maybe just my vibrations, you could tell, versus me just saying something.
HipHopCanada: How do you keep your positive mental attitude?
Ab-Soul: That’s a practice, you gotta practice. I practice being still. The universe bends to a still mind, peace be still. I like to practice being still and I feel like that promotes a lot of positivity. Even like, you see how I’m talking low? ‘Cause I gotta go yell for an hour.
HipHopCanada: I’ll try not to take up too much of that energy.
Ab-Soul: No, it’s all good. I got plenty. You can have all my light, my shine. I got plenty. All my boys here, we working being creative.
HipHopCanada: What are you working on? Any up-coming projects we should know about?
Ab-Soul: I’m really focused on These Days and I’m trying to take it as far as I can – I feel like it’s a strong body of work. I just want to give it the ame kind of attention I give all my projects. My debut album should be next, my album in stores. These Days I’m feeling real good.
HipHopCanada: So we know that people treat you really nice when you have $50 draws on – you wearing expensive draws today? And I’m also curious if you’ve made any other extravagant purchases.
Ab-Soul: The pack was 50. *turns to friend* What you think, dude? What I done cashed out on the most? I’ve got some nice pieces, bro. I’m just into the arts. My boy Doughburger is really into fashion and he’s the guy that keeps update on that shit and I just kinda follow his lead. Yea, from Barney’s a $2000 Givenchy jacket.
Ab-Soul: It’s a bomber but it’s reversible too. Kinda like army but with some grey artwork on the front. But you know, I’m not extra’d out. I got a cool little vinyl collection, you know.
HipHopCanada: Awesome. It’s just about show time so I should let you get back to it. Thanks for kickin’ it with us.
Ab-Soul: Thank you.
Interview conducted by KassKills for HipHopCanada