Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ab-Soul: Control System [Top Dawg download, 2012]
"I've got 700 dollars from my last show/And I would spend it all on you," the most suburban of L.A.'s four-man Black Hippy posse/"supergroup" sings haltingly on the tellingly entitled "Empathy," and although initially I was impressed that he knew the word "chattel," in the end that 700 bucks was the clincher--that he can occasionally make some halfway decent money off his art, and that he's ready to blow it on love rather than blow or a blow job. Not that he's above imagining blow jobs like any other healthy young rapper--cf. "SOPA," which insofar as it's about the Online Piracy Act has a special place in its trickerating heart for porn sites. He's just a gifted kid who likes his weed and his words, which he twists with palpable delight around sparse synth beats musical enough to layer on some delight of their own. And then there's the closing trifecta: his beautiful ideals, his tragic life, and a scabrous Black Hippy remix for the fun of it. A-