Ab-Soul exercises our minds with wisdom-filled bars in “Herbert.”
Honorable Mention. FOMF
No, “FOMF” doesn’t stand for ‘free of mango fossils.’ Those damn mango fossils will creep up on you. Anywho, “FOMF” is one of those obnoxious, energetic, and rowdy club bangers that Ab-Soul is probably better than. At the end of the day, I’m cool with the Cali rapper letting loose for a song or two.
5. Goodman (Ft. Punch)
This ain’t the soft-ass John Goodman from Rosanne either…
You get killer Ab-Soul in “Goodman,” and that’s why I f**k with the song. Over a beat that I would actually expect a New York rapper to slaughter, Ab blesses us with exquisite punchlines, outstanding wordplay, and dynamic flows. He also straddles the line between confrontational and informative, proving his bite and bark are just as strong as his nurturing side. I’m with it when Ab talks his s**t (He actually doesn’t do it enough).
4. The Art Of Seduction (Ft. Ambre)
“The Art Of Seduction” is this album’s only real love song.
Ab-Soul doesn’t do simple, so this isn’t your typical love song. Though it features the stereotypical smooth beat and seductive hook that you hear on R&B and hip-hop fusions, it’s Ab’s lyrics that stand out to me. In his verses, he gets into great detail on how he pulled his chick, kept her pleased, and almost had her end up in the hospital (In a good way. Trust me, when you listen to the song, you’ll understand what I mean). Overall, I f**k with the song’s slick vibe and behind-the-scenes style.
3. Moonshooter (Ft. Joey Bada$$)
I’ve been bumping “Moonshooter” almost every day for the last couple of months. Imagine how lit I got when I found out that Ab added Joey to this joint.
“Moonshooter” feels like slight work for Ab-Soul. In the song, he toys with choppy flows and talks about his unflappable mentality, his competitive nature, his hunger for knowledge, and the current state of the hip-hop game. While I definitely feel like Ab could’ve shifted a few more gears energy-wise, I do think he intentionally tried to sound like s**t was practice for him. As for Joey Bada$$, he sounds fully focused on the track. His verse is powered by a crafty flow and confident tone that makes his lyrics about being unguardable poke out more than that fly on Mike Pence’s head.
I’m weird, I like how it sounds when rappers don’t try on records.
I think “Hollandaise” is a commercial hit.
Every aspect of “Hollandaise” works for me: The beat knocks, the hook is memorable, and the rap flows are dynamic. Also, the lyrics are motivational, competitive, and understandably blasphemous. At the end of the song, you get this game-show-like switch-up that I think is perfect. Overall, this is the one song on the album that I am confident everyone will like.
1. Do Better
Do Better” is a thoughtful track that needs to be sent to Ye immediately.
The vulnerability, the touch, and the honesty that you get in “Do Better” make the song a must-listen. In it, Ab-Soul raps about the many ways he can improve as a human being, admitting to his flaws in the process. What I absolutely love is how Ab raps assertively and with great conviction over a soothing beat that would’ve fit nicely on Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, maad city album (An album that he was inexplicably not on). At the end of the day, this song will touch your ears, heart, and soul.
I don’t care what anybody says, this song spoke to me more than any other on this album.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. Message In A Bottle (3.5/5)
2. No Report Card (3.5/5)
3. Hollandaise (4.5/5)
4. Moonshooter (Ft. Joey Bada$$)(4/5)
5. FOMF (4/5)
6. Goodman (4/5)
7. Do Better (5/5)
8. Gang’Nem (3.5/5)
9. The Wild Side (4/5)
10. Art Of Seduction (4/5)
11. Bucket (4/5)
12. Go Off (Ft. Big Sean & Russ) (3.5/5)
13. Fallacy (4/5)
14. Herbert (3.5/5)
15. Church On The Move (3.5/5)
16. It Be Like That (4/5)
17. Positive Vibes Only (4/5)
18. Gotta Rap (4/5)
Ab-Soul is probably always the smartest dude in the room; I can tell by the way he raps. Matter of fact, he is one of the only rappers in the game that focuses his attention on how his mind is perceived as opposed to how his lifestyle is perceived. Because of this nugget, I think Herbert is a very empowering listen.
Ab, Kendrick, and Isaiah Rashad’s production are similar. They all like to f**k with beats that have some knock to them but also a laidback base. In Herbert, you get those kinds of beats. Since I’m ratchet and hate being put in a philosophical mood (which I think the beats forcibly put you in), I didn’t love the production on the album. Go ahead and call me basic (As I finish my bowl of regular-ass cornflakes without any sugar).
I mean this with the most respect possible: I think Ab-Soul has regressed as a rapper just a little bit (Mind you, he was an A+ rapper before but now he dropped to like a B+). I remember being floored by some of Ab-Soul’s rap verses a couple of years ago; a good chunk of the rap verses I heard from him on this album was good but not fully satisfying. To be more specific, I cringed at a bunch of Ab’s punchlines (Which I have never done) and just felt like something was missing with his deliveries at times. With that being said, it wasn’t his rap mechanics that made me like this album; it was his content. Throughout Herbert, I love how Ab comes across as a genuine dude that is down to challenge himself in every aspect of life. Yea, he sounds cocky here and there, but it’s cocky in an ‘I put the work in’ type of way. In a world full of disingenuous people (Cough, cough Kelsey), it was refreshing listening to a body of work that just feels like some down-to-earth s**t.
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.