These Days... (album)

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These Days...
Ab-Soul, 'These Days…', front cover art, May 30, 2014.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 24, 2014 (2014-06-24)
RecordedAugust–October 2013
GenreHip hop
LabelTop Dawg Entertainment
Ab-Soul chronology
Control System
These Days...
Do What Thou Wilt.
Singles from These Days...
  1. "Dub Sac"
    Released: October 25, 2013
  2. "Tree of Life"
    Released: April 18, 2014
  3. "Stigmata"
    Released: May 22, 2014
  4. "Hunnid Stax"
    Released: June 10, 2014

These Days... is the third studio album by American rapper Ab-Soul. It was released on June 24, 2014, by Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE). The record serves as the follow-up to his critically acclaimed Control System (2012). The album features guest appearances from Black Hippy affiliates Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock; as well as Rick Ross, Lupe Fiasco, Action Bronson and Mac Miller (as Delusional Thomas), whose in-house studio is where Ab-Soul recorded the majority of the record, among others.[1]

The album's production was handled by Digi+Phonics' Dave Free, Sounwave and Tae Beast, among others such as Rahki, Curtiss King, DJ Dahi, Like of Pac Div, Terrace Martin, Corin Roddick, Mac Miller as Larry Fisherman and J. Cole.


On May 5, 2014, after clearing up these rumors that his new album was initially titled Black Lip Pastor, Ab-Soul later revealed that the true title for his new album will be called These Days….[2] In May 2014, in an interview with Jay Z's Life+Times, Ab-Soul spoke on several topics such as his song, called "Stigmata", while not having a super conceptual title for the album and began recording for the majority of it at the Mac Miller's house.[3] When asked about what should listeners take away from These Days…, Ab-Soul answered: "Balance. Variation. A spice of life. I want to try and touch as many bases as possible. I want something on there for everybody. There will be a lot of references to the vibe of today, the sound of today and the subject matter of today."[3]

When asked about what had been his favorite part of creating These Days…, Ab-Soul answered: "It would probably be this part – being able to present it and talk about it. This is what I’ve really been waiting on. The recording process was very fun, of course. I recorded the majority of it at Mac Miller‘s house, so you know that was just crazy. It was great recording, but I just couldn't wait for this part."[3]

When speaking on the album's title with HipHopDX, Ab-Soul stated: "It’s kind of like self-explanatory. I just wanted it to be a little time capsule of the last couple of years since my absence. The vibe of music and life right now like the last couple of years."[4]

Recording and production[edit]

On June 1, 2014, Ab-Soul described the album would be a "Top Dawg party" and will feature the production from Sounwave, Tae Beast, Skyhe Hutch and Tommy Black, among others.[4] He called the recording process for These Days… "fun" and says he recorded most of the album at fellow American rapper Mac Miller's Los Angeles home: "We had a lot of fun in that red room," Ab-Soul says. "Very psychedelic, you could lose track of time. Just open the door and it’s daylight. People like recording there ’cause of the vibe."[4]

Release and promotion[edit]

On August 6, 2013, Ab-Soul announced that he was working on a new project.[5] The following day he would speak to XXL, to confirm that JMSN and Jhené Aiko will be appearing on the upcoming project.[6] On October 17, 2013, Ab-Soul stated that he was close to finalizing it.[7] On October 25, Ab-Soul released a track, titled "Dub Sac".[8] Later that week, he confirmed that his new album has been turned in for mixing and cleared up these rumors that it was initially titled Black Lip Pastor.[9][10]

On January 6, 2014, in an interview with Bootleg Kev, when speaking on the album, Ab-Soul stated: "Ali is mixing it right now," and that they were waiting on the perfect way to present the project, as a result of creative releases such as Nipsey Hussle's Crenshaw.[11] He also revealed that the album is about progression and confirmed there would be appearances from his TDE label-mates, as well as the production from a hip hop producer Statik Selektah.[11] On April 18, 2014, Ab-Soul premiered a song, titled "Tree of Life", to promote the album.[12] On May 5, 2014, Ab-Soul took to Twitter, announcing that his third solo effort would be titled These Days….[2] On May 22, Ab-Soul released a song, titled "Stigmata", via TDE's SoundCloud page. The song was produced by Rahki. The song was inspired by Nas' "The Cross", and features guest verses from Action Bronson and Philadelphia-based rapper Asaad.[13] On May 30, its music video, which was directed by Dave Free and APLUSFILMZ, was released.[14] The video clocks in a minute and a half, because of the removal of the two guest rappers' verses, finds a blood-soaked Ab-Soul, re-imagined as Jesus Christ, trekking alone through a desert environment with a wooden cross on his back and a crown of thorns on his head. The clip ends with the album's cover art and release date.[15][16] Top Dawg management took it to Twitter to confirm that These Days… is scheduled for a June 24, release date.[14][17][18] On June 1, 2014, Ab-Soul appeared on Hot 97's Real Late with Rosenberg, to discuss and promote the album.[4] On June 10, he premiered the audio for a song off the album, titled "Hunnid Stax", featuring his Black Hippy cohort ScHoolboy Q.[19] Ab-Soul performed "Stigmata" sans Action Bronson and Asaad on Revolt Live on June 19.[20] On June 20, TDE released a music video for a song from the album, titled "Closure".[21][22] On July 15, 2014, Top Dawg Ent. released the music video for "Hunnid Stax".[23][24]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[26]
The A.V. ClubB-[27]
HipHopDX4/5 stars[30]
Pitchfork Media7.7/10[32]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[34]

These Days... received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 70 based on 17 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews".[25] Jabbari Weaks of Exclaim! wrote "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."[36] G. Avant of AllHipHop wrote "These Days was just one step further in solidifying the position of Ab-Soul and TDE as a collective for long term success."[37] Eric Thurm of The A.V. Club noted "for someone so comfortable wearing his poetic heart on his sleeve, the black-lipped pastor has made an oddly distant album."[27] Kellan Miller of XXL wrote "if he continues to release profound, well-rounded material, his name will no doubt be included in Top Five Lists across the board."[35] Philip Cosores of Paste wrote "These days, there is almost always as much reason to be thinking deeply as there is to escape. That Ab-Soul tries to do both makes for a pretty entertaining ride, even when he technically falters."[31] In a positive review, AllMusic's David Jeffries wrote "his third album is a bit scattered and a tad overwhelming, but those who like their hip-hop to be a mix of machismo and maverick can easily ignore these small bumps in the road, because These Days... offers a whirlwind of excellent hooks and exciting ideas."[26] In a more critical review, Marshall Gu of PopMatters wrote that the album is "too long" and that it felt like Ab-Soul was "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." [33] Jon Rolan of Rolling Stone wrote "He rarely strives for the depth of Lamar or the intensity of Q; there's plenty of clever imagery on These Days . . ., but a fully realized dude never quite comes into focus."[34]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 21,812 copies in the United States.[38]

Track listing[edit]

1."God's Reign" (featuring SZA)Purity Ring4:18
2."Tree of Life"
3."Hunnid Stax" (featuring Schoolboy Q)Kenny Beats3:23
4."Dub Sac"
5."World Runners" (featuring Lupe Fiasco and Nikki Jean)Tae Beast5:02
6."Nevermind That" (featuring Rick Ross)The Kathy4:39
7."Twact" (featuring Jinx and Short Dawg)
  • Stevens IV
  • Supreme Williams
  • Donte Blacksher
8."Just Have Fun"
9."Kendrick Lamar's Interlude" (performed by Kendrick Lamar)Martin4:59
J. Cole3:36
12."Stigmata" (featuring Action Bronson and Asaad)
13."Feelin' Us" (featuring Jay Rock and RaVaughn)Skhye Hutch5:09
14."Ride Slow" (featuring Danny Brown and Delusional Thomas)Larry Fisherman7:21
15."W.R.O.H" (featuring JMSN)
Tae Beast23:00
Total length:89:28


  • "God's Reign" features additional vocals from Isaiah Rashad.
  • "Tree of Life" features additional vocals from Audra the Rapper and Joey Badass.
  • "Hunnid Stax" features additional vocals from Mac Miller and Puff Daddy.
  • "Dub Sac" features additional vocals from A-Mack and Punch.
  • "World Runners" features additional vocals from Jade Honesty.
  • "Nevermind That" features additional vocals from BJ the Chicago Kid.
  • "Twact" features additional vocals from DoeBurger.
  • "Just Have Fun" features additional vocals from Dash and F.O.A.R.
  • "Just Have Fun" contains the hidden track "These Days..." featuring The O'My's.
  • "Kendrick Lamar's Interlude" features additional vocals from JaVonté.
  • "Closure" features additional vocals from Jhené Aiko.
  • "Sapiosexual" features additional vocals from Bilal Chaudhry (B-Diddy), Jae Crizz, SZA and Isaiah Rashad.
  • "Ride Slow" features additional vocals from Earl Sweatshirt and DoeBurger.
  • "W.R.O.H" features additional vocals from Daylyt.

Sample credits


Chart (2014) Peak
US Billboard 200[40] 11
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[41] 2
US Top Rap Albums (Billboard)[42] 2
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[43] 3
UK Albums (OCC)[44] 96
UK R&B Albums (OCC)[45] 7


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  2. ^ a b Walsh, Peter (6 May 2014). "Ab-Soul's Album Title Is 'These days…'". Retrieved 7 Jun 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Ab-Soul Talks New Music, T.D.E., and "These Days…" Album". Life+Times. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Harling, Danielle (4 June 2014). "Ab-Soul Says "These Days…" Will Be A "Top Dawg Party"". Retrieved 7 June 2014.
  5. ^ Nostro, Lauren (6 Aug 2013). "Ab-Soul "Christopher DRONEr"". Retrieved 6 Jun 2014.
  6. ^ Johnson, Miranda (8 Aug 2013). "Ab-Soul Speaks On New Single And Upcoming Project With JMSN". Retrieved 7 Jun 2014.
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  27. ^ a b "Review: Ab-Soul loses control on These Days… · Music Review". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
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