In the six long years since Ab-Soul last released an album, he's been through a lot. He lost two of his best friends—rappers Mac Miller and Doeburger—and started to climb out of what he describes as a “rabbit hole” of misinformation and conspiracy theories that impacted his relationships with loved ones and critics alike. (This included things like seeing an image of Hitler in photos of the 9/11 attacks.) So this time around, the cerebral, heart-baring lyricist sheds the veneer of his rap moniker and exposes fans to his real name, Herbert. It makes for his most grounded record yet: His boastful rhymes teem with gratitude, his nostalgic verses produce sharply distinct memories, and voicemails from family members and loved ones hold the album together. He revisits his younger days of memorizing Kris Kross lyrics (“Hollandaise”) and dealing with shady promoters during his journey to rap stardom (“Moonshooter”); taps into the street culture of his hometown of Carson, California (“Gang’nem”); and spits like his life is on the line on the DJ Premier-produced “Gotta Rap.” But the centerpieces of the album are “Do Better” and the title track, “Herbert.” On the former, Soul grapples with depression and substance abuse while motivating himself to strive for his personal best. (The music video bravely recreates the conditions of his suicide attempt, while a separate lyrics video shows comments from fans sharing how the song impacted them.) “Herbert,” meanwhile, details the relentless string of struggles that he’s fought all his life: being diagnosed at 10 years old with the rare disease Stevens-Johnson syndrome, which impacts his skin and his vision; losing his father to gun violence and his former partner Alori Joh to suicide; and more. But what’s notably missing from Herbert is those conspiracy theories that electrified older albums like Control System; he’d rather mine his own life experiences for deeper meaning instead of digging through the annals of YouTube and message boards. “You can’t fuck with Herbert. Ab-Soul can’t even fuck with Herbert,” one of his longtime friends, King Richard, says at the end of “No Report Card.” The Black Lip Bastard has set high standards, but his homie may have a point.

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada