Ab-Soul
Control System


3.0
good

Review

by Sobhi Youssef EMERITUS
May 17th, 2012 | 87 replies | 19,366 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hip-hop fans have something to look forward to out of the west coast again

LA collective Black Hippy took 2011 by storm with well-received releases by all members, spearheaded in force by Kendrick Lamar's debut LP, Section.80. Where Section.80 proved Lamar's worth and elite lyricism, the rest of the crew trailed slightly behind with exceptional efforts from Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock. The weakest of these Black Hippy releases was (unquestionably) Ab-Soul's Longterm Mentality, a poorly produced, meandering affair that just barely separated itself from the chaff purely through its vocal merits.

Proper studio follow-up, Control System, finds Ab-Soul taking continued advantage of his unique flow - a style that emphasizes interesting alliterative diction and continued expansion of singing duties among other things. Most notably, "Terrorist Threats" shines a spotlight on this and provides a direct comparison to featured guest/ upstart phenomenon Danny Brown. Brown destroys the mic especially, yet on first listen it's strangely difficult to differentiate the two from each other. Ab-Soul performs well in this complementary role and shows how versatile he really is, almost a west-coast amalgam of Brown and Kanye West, yet still a slightly weaker and more inconsistent sum than the parts. Potentially, he is the type of emcee more meant for guest feature spots in moderation, but his innate storytelling ability lends one to believe otherwise. Late-album gem "The Book of Soul" strikes a delicate balance between therapy session and remembrance, and is one of the more heartfelt rap performances of recent memory.

The main issue with Control System is not the rapping. While not as severe a detractor as in Longterm Mentality, it is frustrating that the production is still as weak as it is. It is definitely (and probably intentionally) different from the rest of the crew's more electronic influenced sounds in that Ab-Soul elects to go with a more classic style. Granted, this beat selection is not to the same, anachronistic extreme his previous effort went for. Kendrick Lamar-featured "Illuminate" brings an atmospheric, at times 80s sounding beat to an excellent interplay between Ab and Lamar. But nonetheless, similar examples are sparse throughout and cannot shake a prevailing dated vibe. In general, it's baffling that Longterm Mentality was even released with the superior-in-every-way Control System only a year removed - but such is the patience of youth. If there was a weak link in Top Dawg Entertainment's roster, the more polished Control System repaired it; hip-hop fans have a lot to look forward to out of the west coast again.



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user ratings (244)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Richard Dunn (5)
Maybe give this one a couple more spins before passing it off as just another west coast rap album....


Comments:Add a Comment 
livingisland
May 17th 2012



525 Comments


Is the rapper's name a reference to the Pokemon?

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2012



7328 Comments


It might just be me but I think the first sentence reads a little awkwardly.

Good review though, I enjoyed Schoolboy Q's latest so I'll probably give this a go.

Wolfhorde
May 17th 2012



13011 Comments


Holy shit, how long is this album?

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2012



7365 Comments


It's typical for the majority of hip-hop albums. Nothing peculiar about it.

Digging: 68 - In Humor and Sadness

Wolfhorde
May 17th 2012



13011 Comments


Yeah, I know. But listening through an 3.0 album for that long? Idk. I usually end up picking out tracks with such albums.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 17th 2012



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

yeah that's why i gave it a 3... too inconsistent. Way too much material here that could have been cut.

you're right about the first sentence, i should remove the "but".

Wolfhorde
May 17th 2012



13011 Comments


Might check this out though, I believe to remember he wasn't bad on Section 80.

Romulus
May 17th 2012



8423 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i like this a bit more than you do but nice review.

"yeah that's why i gave it a 3... too inconsistent. Way too much material here that could have been cut."

i can agree with this though, i've basically just been picking and choosing tracks so far.

how good is that schoolboy q album?

Inveigh
May 17th 2012



24950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this would've been better if it was 11-12 songs


SchoolBoy Q and this are on similar levels, quality-wise, imo. This might be a tad better.

Digging: YOB - Clearing The Path To Ascend

daIceman
May 17th 2012



398 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

I fuckin hate it :DDD

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 17th 2012



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

I put Schoolboy Q on about the same level, but I enjoy the standout tracks more-so than here. So I gave that a 3.5

aok
May 17th 2012



4410 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i think schoolboy's a bit more fun, but ab-soul puts more thought in his stuff. i should check out jay rock though -- black
hippy's been doing it for me lately

Digging: Aphex Twin - Syro

PorkchopExpress
May 17th 2012



387 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Black Hippy is my favorite thing in hip-hop at the moment. Glad to see you revitalizing Sputniuk's hip-hop section lately.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2012



17204 Comments


couldn't get into this at all. there's some cool shit out of the west if you like laid back stuff.

Storm In A Teacup
May 17th 2012



12720 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Wow I heard this was good but I'm not enjoying it.

Hawks
May 17th 2012



35675 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Idk I really like this.

Digging: Engraved - Before The Tales

defjaw83
May 18th 2012



1766 Comments


Love most the Black Hippy stuff so I'll be checking this out. Wasn't expecting it to be as good as Kendrick or ScHoolboy and this review has basically confirmed that

tkxxx7
May 19th 2012



6153 Comments


Ab-Soul kinda bores me

FourthReich
May 19th 2012



17487 Comments


"SchoolBoy Q and this are on similar levels, quality-wise, imo. This might be a tad better."

I can't agree with this. albeit they are similar, schoolboy's lastest work had a lot more hits interwoven within his 17 tracks. this was just lacking and nothing really stood out and awed me like say q's, "hands on the wheel", "sacreligious", or "blessed" did. just alot of average-good tracks, a 3 seems fair.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 19th 2012



4950 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Yeah agree. Qs record was def better overall. The standout tracks were way better than than the best tracks here



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