Like the rest of his crew, Black Hippy (Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, and Schoolboy Q), Ab-Soul is skilled at balancing the mainstream and the underground along with the sublime and the ridiculous. Spinning so many plates means 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. Here, big hardcore ballers ('Hunnid Stax' with Schoolboy Q) sit next to ambitious cloud-rap explorations of self ('World Runners' with Lupe Fiasco and Nikki Jean) and sometimes, the two worlds meet, like when Miami Don Rick Ross gets covered in stuttering, indie-flavored syrup ('Nevermind That'). The three other members of Black Hippy appear, along with great choices like Action Bronson and Danny Brown, plus the 23-minute closer, 'W.R.O.H.,' is no ponderous epic, but some audio verite that's humorous, odd, and enlightening. Artful and gangsta at the same time, These Days... is a true stunner.
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