These Days...

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70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 17 Critics What's this?

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7.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 53 Ratings

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  • Summary: The third full-length studio release for the Black Hippy rapper features guest appearances from such artists as Action Bronson, Asaad, Danny Brown, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross, Schoolboy Q, and SZA.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 17
  2. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Jul 25, 2014
    80
    Ab-Soul is still the third man up in the stacked TDE crew (behind Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q), but this album establishes him as the group’s most reliable Swiss Army knife: deft in a wide variety of sonic and thematic situations.
  2. Jul 25, 2014
    80
    Ab’s creative leaps are sometimes jarring at the onset, such as “Closure” featuring Jhené Aiko, a track that will be deeply unsettling to the National Association of Backpacker Excellence among others.
  3. Jul 25, 2014
    77
    That Ab-Soul tries to do both makes for a pretty entertaining ride, even when he technically falters. Ambition changes the definition of success, making this Ab-Soul record a better experience that can be picked apart.
  4. Jul 25, 2014
    70
    The self-proclaimed "Genius, idiot" succeeds for the most part in moving out of his sonic comfort zone while toeing the lyrical line between enlightenment and ignorance.
  5. 67
    While These Days... does linger a bit too long in the depths of intoxication, it’s difficult to write this off as anything less than a solid indie release.
  6. Jul 25, 2014
    60
    Ab-Soul puts out a solid release here, helped along by some big name features and big performances from his TDE labelmates, but at times These Days feels too generic or just flat out stale, ultimately failing to carry the Black Hippy torch in the ways that good kid m.A.A.d city and Oxymoron did for the crew.
  7. Jul 25, 2014
    50
    Because Ab-Soul has pulled in every connection he has to feature on These Days (many of whom, including Jadakiss, Isaiah Rashad, BJ the Chicago Kid and Earl Sweatshirt, aren’t even credited because they’re doing background stuff), coupled with the fact that the beats are often too cluttered, feels like he’s just trying to throw everything at the wall in the hopes that something will stick so that Interscope will take notice and finally sign him.

See all 17 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 1 out of 5
  1. Jul 27, 2014
    8
    Ab-Soul with "These Days..." with a sting of the pop-music's taste, these days.

    A fun and more than ever ratchet driven project from TDE's
    Ab-Soul with "These Days..." with a sting of the pop-music's taste, these days.

    A fun and more than ever ratchet driven project from TDE's most lyrical and drugged-out socially aware hippy, Ab-Soul. As the title pretty much sums up a feeling of "These Days...", it is more straightforward, it is more explicit and it is more accessible to the ears of an average-listener. Though, beneath the surface it is a thoughtful piece of work and having it's moments of darker under-tones!

    In the light of Ab-Soul's previous releases, "Control System" with it's many subjects, was a mixed bag, as varied as for the many Michael Jackson fans out there (R.I.P. on that 5-year anniversary, time flies).

    But now, on the follow-up [album], folks thoughts and reviews around this release, which resolute it feeling impersonal, messy, commercial and a bit strange so to say. Considering that Soul with his previous efforts made ​​himself well-known as the brain and the most independent in TDE. But the farther one penetrates into this delusional albums core, it turns out that "These Days ..." clearly is in fact more of a photograph and a parody of the society, these days (pun) and contemporary hip hop, as he says, capturing the last two or three years of it, a time capsule.
    Tracks like the over-saturated, R&B warm of a cut "Nevermind That" and the DJ Mustard-influenced (Bay Area, really, but these days.. concept, so) "Twact" is very reminiscent of songs that rotate in power these days (pun intended), but with a distinct Soulo-twist.

    It is an album, that will diverse the audience, in my opinion though, Ab-Soul comes out with a handful of interesting and catchy tunes. At times, (as the cover art for this project) biblical on the fantastic and stand-out cut "Stigmata" feauturing Action Bronson and Asaad. Having a genuine and fresh interpolation of Nas‘ song, The Cross on the chorus to bring the concept all together all more vivid.

    The Hip Hop references do not stop there, the highlights coming across is a hilarious Chief Keef "Love Sosa" moment on the back hand of the Black Hippy member - Jay Rock feautured "Feeling Us", and singing along with last years Drake phrase **** talk more, than **** these days.." on the fan favorite "Just Have Fun". An up-tempo track that that later on transfers the party to the second part of the track, a downfall on drugs and alcohol. The self titled part (These Days), includes more references to the mainstream scene, one to YG's "My **** on the laugh-cracking skit that interfered in-between, and on the verses where Ab-Soul is seen borrowing a Migos flow and making it finally more than a flow that is enjoyable on the ears but on paper too. The track concludes with some beautiful production, guitars and a cathcy hook by the O'My's.

    The opener, "God's Reign" is one of the albums deeper cuts, feauturing more of the clever bars as we have come to know Ab for, with SZA singing the hook and Corin Roddick from the duo Purity Ring providing an excellent production for Soul to rap over, as moody, dreamy and odd as Soul himself.
    The LP is not without it's flaws though, when tracks like "Twact" swerves around I can not help to think of why Ab-Soul didn't instead stack in songs like the fantastic "Christoper DRONEr", (one that could easily slip in to his top ten) to really package this project together, with talks that is relatable and issued, these days (pun once again), as he tackled the Jesus image such as.
    The album finishes of with, what on paper seems to be the long awaited collaborative EP with singer/producer JMSN. While we did only get one song, the big surprise is a raw audio clip of a rap battle between, the rapper Ab-Soul and the battle-rapper Daylyt.

    The album, as a whole brings, at-least, veriaty, with stunning lyrical spins as on the third verse on the dusty, boom-bap- Longterm influenced "Tree of Life", the emotionally shattered, but catchy "Closure", Q smash on "Hunnid Stax", the reprise of "Section.80s" "Ab-Soul's Outro" but now being the very own, comrade Kendrick's time to spit it, and to note, the many pop-ups on the original tracks, that includes new cuts, balancing out the mediocrity from guest features as Rick Ross, Jinx and Short Dawg.

    Ab-Soul is confusing, to some confused with this one, not sure if I even understand the album at the moment, which kind of makes me love it, or how it will impact me on the long-run.
    Is it perfect? Brilliantly, no, not really, though is it a stretch much to say that this is more enjoyable than "Control System"? No, not really.
    But what I know is, that I'm going to try decipher this puzzle, "These Days ..." as I have been a week since the release of it.
    Even if you dis-like or love Ab-Soul's new release, this might be the most interesting Hip Hop album to dig deeply into this year.
    "These Days..." is un-expected, a satire of todays mainstream scene in Hip Hop we can discuss about.

    *edited, in less 5000 characters*
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  2. Aug 11, 2014
    8
    Though this album definitely isn't as good as Control System, the reason why most people will like it is also the reason people won't: It'sThough this album definitely isn't as good as Control System, the reason why most people will like it is also the reason people won't: It's fun. Maybe a little too fun, not matching the emotional depth of Control System but overall a great vibe. Expand
  3. Aug 24, 2014
    8
    Overall, I am very impressed by Ab-Soul’s latest project as before this, I never really loved him. Sure, Control System was pretty good, but IOverall, I am very impressed by Ab-Soul’s latest project as before this, I never really loved him. Sure, Control System was pretty good, but I was often turned off by his schtick and image. I was initially hesitant to check this one out because the cover made me think it would be more of the same, but luckily, it was not. Here, Ab-Soul is frequently blessed with great production and, for the most part, his lyrics and verses are on point and his delivery/flow are top-notch. The guest appearances are also pretty good, in particular Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Kendrick Lamar. Some (Short Dawg, Action Bronson, and Danny Brown) are not as great, but when you have so many guests, you can expect some poor appearances. Ultimately, this effort is a good one that would be helped by fewer guests, but is still a very good effort from somebody who I would still consider to be my least favorite in TDE. But, his appeal is certainly on the rise for me. Expand
  4. Aug 16, 2014
    7
    “Soulo eatin’ now, tell ‘em Puff said so” says Puff Daddy on the outro of “Hunnid Stax”.
    Yes, it’s time for Ab-Soul to eat, the fourth TDE
    “Soulo eatin’ now, tell ‘em Puff said so” says Puff Daddy on the outro of “Hunnid Stax”.
    Yes, it’s time for Ab-Soul to eat, the fourth TDE member to release in 2014.
    Looking at the tracklist there’s a lot of features on this album (some of which aren’t credited), it’s a “TDE party” like Soulo told us, but there are also some surprises like Rick Ross.
    The production on this is very cohesive apart from the song “Twact” which seems a forced out of place banger on a dark/hypnotic album.
    The Blended Babies-produced title-track “These Days” is hidden as outro on “Just Have Fun”, one of the best tracks on the album, where Soulo surprisingly uses the Migos flow (he tells us he’s never going to use it again).
    The “Kendrick Lamar’s Interlude” is a particular track where Kendrick spits rhymes out of time on a funk jazz beat produced by Terrace Martin,
    “World Runners” addresses subjects like Illuminati and the way the world works.
    Another track which deserved to be mentioned is “W.R.O.H.” which features JMSN. The song proves once again the perfect chemistry between JMSN and Soul. On the outro of the song, Soul and Daylyt spit rhymes for 19 minutes.
    Other interesting tracks are the first single “Stigmata”; the sad “Closure” which addresses his ex-girlfriend Alori Joh’s death on a slow-tempo track; “Sapiosexual”, a J.Cole-produced track about the sexual attraction to intelligence in others.
    The lyrical content is great as always, so you should pay attention to what he says giving it more spins.
    According to some people, the title “These Days…” refers to the recent rap-game influences he put on the album: the “Twact” beat is something DJ Mustard would produce, the Migos flow he uses in the title-track, the songs about money and other analogies.
    It’s only a theory but I like to believe that some of it is true.

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  5. Jul 28, 2014
    0
    (My reviews focus largely on the writing of the album, with minor considerations towards beats and performances)

    There are three
    (My reviews focus largely on the writing of the album, with minor considerations towards beats and performances)

    There are three explanation to what happen on these days.

    1. Ab Soul may have been trying to appeal to mainstream fan.

    2. Ab soul may have been poking fun at mainstream rap

    3. Ab Soul is done.

    Regardless of the explanation, this is one of the worst albums I've heard in any music genre this year especially in comparison"Control System" which was an almost classic.
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