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Rap Caviar

Photo by Todd Cooper
Photo by Todd Cooper

If there were ever rap raw enough to contend with a dish of five-star tartare, Ab-Soul would easily be the dollop of prime caviar served atop. Between his haunting beats and brutally blunt lyrics, this hip-hop artist is making waves colossal enough to tear through his competition in the scene.

Ab-Soul, born Herbert Anthony Stevens IV, spent his childhood in Los Angeles and began slinging rhymes in high school. After graduation, he was spitting out mix tapes and quickly joined the Black Hippy Crew, a close-knit hip-hop collective featuring Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad.

Since 2011, Stevens has dropped four studio albums — three of which easily slid into Billboard’s Top 100.

There’s no use comparing Stevens’ sound to that of his peers. His lyrics are political, often calling out government corruption and systemic racism. Embedded between his politics, Stevens opens a space to discuss his relationship with drugs, which swerves between true love and a defeating numbness. 

Whatever he spits out, Stevens never fails to experiment with unusual time signatures and beats. He spews syllables like a Xanax-fueled metronome while lacing a hyper yet heavy beat beneath his lyrics. The ambience he creates in each song, whether preaching of justice or blacking out, is simply haunting.

Come get heavy with Ab-Soul’s “YMF Tour” 9 pm Saturday, Apr. 15, at WOW Hall; $23 adv., $27 door, $65 meet-and-greet. — Kelsey Anne Rankin