Album that changed my life: Ab-Soul — Control System

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 at 5:14 PM
Album that changed my life: Ab-Soul — Control System by Jalil Robinson

On May 11, 2012, Ab-Soul’s album “Control System” was released. The 17-track, 71-minute experience was not Ab-Soul’s first record, though it feels that way because it was his most defining album. It would bring the most attention to him and showed the difference between him and his TDE record label mates, such as Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock.

When I first heard this album, I wasn’t pleased with it at all. I constantly kept hearing hype around Ab-Soul and the TDE Camp, causing me to keep trying to listen for what made this album so great. I gave up and thought, “this is one of the most overhyped albums and artist I’ve ever heard.”

But shortly after, I would catch myself singing the lyrics. And then, I didn’t know the meaning of what I listened to, and this made me do research on the lyrics to decode what I was reciting.

It wasn’t that the music was bad, but I didn’t understand what Ab-Soul was talking about and couldn’t see through his conspiracy theory rap. The moment I found out what he was talking about, though, it felt like a whole world opened up for me. I decoded Ab-Soul’s awkward lines only to find out they were often operating as double entendres.

Listening to “Control System” definitely changed the way I look at words and changed the direction of the music I listened to; those aspects changed my life. I wasn’t familiar with rappers that were as lyrically dense, so this album had a huge impact on me. 

Some of my favorite songs from “Control System” were “Bohemian Grove,” “Pineal Gland,” “Black Lip Bastard” and my all-time favorite Ab-Soul song, “Book of Soul.” 

“Bohemian Grove” is a smooth track where Ab-Soul slides in slick lines about the gentlemen’s club where some of the most powerful people in the nation meet for unknown reasons. 

On fan favorite “Pineal Gland,” Ab-Soul raps about experiencing dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in his sleep. 

“Black Lip Bastard” was an insane posse cut from the Black Hippy Crew, made up of Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q and Jay Rock. 

Ab-Soul talks about the hard life he had growing up with Steven Johnson Syndrome on “Book of Soul.” On this track, he also mourns his girlfriend and frequent TDE collaborator, Alori Joh, who helped him create the album, but sadly committed suicide in 2012 before the album was released. 

“Control System” was definitely an experience which, after some dissection from start to finish, I felt was brilliant. Ab-Soul was able to bridge the gap between smart rap and a street mindset. In his weird intoxicating vibe, he was able to speak on fashion and science in the same line, making comparisons that no one had done before. This album secured my spot as a diehard Ab-Soul fan for life. I label this album a classic piece of art, giving it a 10/10 for its depth and creativity.

Jalil Robinson can be reached at

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