Ab-Soul held a listening session for his anticipated release, These Days… in Santa Monica, California’s Red Bull Studios last Saturday (June 21). In front of small gathering of friends, collaborators and label mates—including Punch, Sza and Terrace Martin—as well as selected media, Soulo shared the central theme to the album. “I know we see the Jesus cover,” he said. “I don’t want anybody to think that I actually think I’m Jesus in the flesh.” He continued:

“The concept is more than anything, I realize that people are reciting these words. When I go out to a show, they say the words with me. When I say these things, I am saying what I think of. The main theme of the album is ‘I’m more than a man / I done died and rose again / Left these holes in my hand / So you know who I am.’ If you say that with me, it’s like you said it, too. So you can too be that for a second. Dig what I’m saying? Take that with you. I know that when I say these things, you can actually be that for a second, or you can be me for a second, or say it back with me. Just keep that in mind.”

Neither in direction or intent, These Days…doesn’t sound as convoluted as that statement may read. In comparison to his critically acclaimed #controlsystem, this album is infinitely more accessible. There are a few connections to the previous project and the newest, however, one of which is that the album’s second cut, “Tree Of Life” is a nod to #controlsystem album cover, for example. But holistically, Ab intended for this project to mirror life as he sees it through his legally blind eyes these days.

“That’s something that we say a lot to describe what’s going on right now,” Ab-Soul said describing the meaning of the title during the Q&A session that followed the listening. “That’s what I wanted to do. Rolling off of #controlsystem, I didn’t want to seem too philosophical so we don’t want to confuse anybody. [I wanted] to bring it back down-to-Earth.”

That was the first thing HipHopDX learned from Ab-Soul’s These Days…listening session. Here are five more: 

Quotes taken directly from Ab-Soul

“Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude” Is Part 2 To Section.80’s “Ab-Soul Outro” 

“Have you you heard “Ab-Soul’s Outro” on Section.80? That was a take on that. This is “Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude.” I thought I’d keep the theme on that as much as possible. Terrace Martin produced the record as well. It’s a complete spin on “Ab-Soul’s Outro” on Section.80—part 2.” 

Puff Daddy Lends “Mo Money Mo Problems” Angle To These Days…

“Absolutely. That has a lot to do with that. We’re making money now. This is a nice studio we’re in. Things are moving up. Real life still happens when I leave here, too.”

“Closure” Is A True Story

“When I do these things, it’s not so much that I’m trying to show myself in a particular way. I do like to be diverse. I like to challenge myself to try new sounds. But that really happened these days. I felt a responsibility to tell it. Had it not been a closure, had it been an opening, I would’ve told you that. I didn’t want to do it just to make you feel a certain way. It really happened. I felt a responsibility to tell it.” 

Rick Ross “Nevermind” Feature Secured Through Twitter

“I’ve bumped into him a lot [while] out, but I reached out to him on Twitter. He just got right back with me. It was cool. We haven’t had a [meeting of the minds yet]. Maybe after this, I’ll probably sit down with him.”

Ab-Soul Battles Daylyt On These Days…

“A lot of people are wondering why the last track is 23 minutes. I actually battled one of my favorite battle rappers right now. His name is Daylyt. Battle Rap is very popular these days. Like I said, I want this to be a time capsule of the times right now and it’s more exciting than it’s been at this point. I wanted to try to see if I could do that if I could—blur the lines between the battle rapper and rapper who battle raps.”

Justin “The Company Man” Hunte is the Editor-in-Chief of HipHopDX. He was the host of The Company Man Show on PNCRadio.fm and has covered music, politics, and culture for numerous publications. He is currently based in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter@TheCompanyMan.

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