With his These Days… album due out this week, Ab-Soul sat down with Complex to speak about the release, sipping lean, and including a Jay Z or Nas reference in each of his albums up to this point. During the interview, Soul also broke down his status as a T.D.E. artist and the misconception that he’s signed to Interscope.

Asked about his “Stigmata” single and video, Ab-Soul explained quoting Nas’s “The Cross” for his own hook.

“I originally wanted to do a song about stigma,” he said. “Doing research on that, I thought of the word ‘stigmata,’ I thought that was just like a extension of the word. So I looked it up and rediscovered what ‘stigmata’ actually meant. I usually quote Nas and Jay Z at least once or twice on every project. That was just the one for this one in particular.”

Responding to a question about a line in which he references sipping lean, Soul hinted that that lyric was also a Jay Z reference.

“Yeah,” he said, “I been sipping for awhile, real talk. That was a Jay Z reference too kind of. I won’t give it to you, just know it was a reference.”

The line in question appears on Ab-Soul’s “Tree Of Life” when he raps: “Used to cop a little deuce / Now I cop a whole case of Actavis to give Sprite stock a boost.” The lyrics are presumably an allusion to similar lines rapped by Jay Z on the Watch The Throne song “Primetime.” “I hit the club, order some Grey Goose / Switched it for Ciroc to give Puff’s stocks a boost,” Jay Z raps.

Opening up about how success has changed his lifestyle, Soul detailed employing long-time friends. 

“You gotta do good with your people, all the time,” he said. “My weed man and my lean man and my driver, them is my homies from the hood. I can’t drive, I can’t see that well. I smoke weed a lot. I just do good with my people.”

“I need a corneal transplant,” he said of not being able to drive. “I’m not too excited about doing that. So, I’m gonna thug it out as long as I can. Sounds kind of scary right? That’s how it sounds to me. I see alright right now, I ain’t running into too much.”

Ab-Soul Explains His Label Status

Clearing up confusion regarding his label status, Ab-Soul separated himself from his fellow label artists and explained being exclusively signed to T.D.E.

“T.D.E. only,” he said of his current status. “I was never signed to Interscope. Very important to know.”

“If one of us are there we’re family,” he added of T.D.E.’s association with Interscope. “Kendrick went over to Aftermath / Interscope, Q went over to Interscope. So, it’s just us trying out with the larger brands. Branching off…It’s all strategy but at the same time, was Death Row an independent label? Are we calling it the right thing really? What are we doing? What are we trying to do here?

“I don’t hear too many people calling Death Row an independent label or an independent record company, or Roc-A-Fella,” he went on. “They don’t really call them independent record labels. They probably had distributors they were working with, cross-branding or whatever the case may be. Independent sounds a lot smaller than major. I think we do it major.”

Segueing into a conversation about Black Hippy in general, Ab-Soul repeated similar comments he made recently about Black Hippy writing Detox in full.

“The Black Hippy album should just be Detox,” he said when asked about the current standing of a Black Hippy album. “I’m trying to tell Top to just let Dre let us come in and do Detox. Why not? That’d be crazy.”

Clarifying the state of Black Hippy, Soul said “it’s not a group really, it’s just a collective.”

“It was a way for us to bring all of our audiences together,” he said. “So we’re just doing just that.”

Near the end of the interview, Soul opened up about his Twitter complaints surrounding the pushback of his latest release.

“Only in terms of time, but I’m one of the original members of T.D.E. which gives me some pretty cool seniority in the company,” he said. “It’s not like I was being shelved…We like to make sure we’re all on the same accord, we all like the material that’s being presented. We just like to move as a team. I was only expressing my frustration as far as the time. I’ve been working this whole two years, I didn’t want people to think that I wasn’t working.”

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