My Date with Ab-Soul: These Days Show Review

There is a brilliant benefit to being both a fan of rap, a predominantly male sub-genre, and a woman that is rarely discussed. Along with appreciating an artist’s music, she can find herself attracted to the artist, another level of appreciation. This is the perspective I and every other woman in attendance held Friday at The Trocadero Theatre for Ab-Soul, Top Dawg Entertainment’s artist. What was it about the self proclaimed “black hippies” performance that enchanted us? Allow me to paint a picture, starting at the beginning.

Being the opening act holds a lot of responsibility and pressure. To perform in front of an audience that is not only unfamiliar with you but paid to see someone else is difficult. In some cases, it is more likely to incite enthusiasm from the guards of Buckingham Palace. For this reason, kudos must be awarded to Atlanta native rap group, EarthGang, and Bas, a rapper signed to Dreamville Records who expanded their fan base with superb and unique sets.  Like wingmen sparking the flame with an introduction, the opening act is where the infatuation began.

And Ab-Soul needs no introduction, literally. His hypeman appeared on stage along with his DJ, T1, giving the impression of another opening act. Moments after, he nonchalantly strolled onto the stage, as though the hundreds filling the theatre were not there to see him. It was a modest first kiss. The crowd erupted in excitement and surprise. He adorned himself in paraphernalia from local businesses. A hat from ETHIK, Philadelphian clothing brand, atop his elegantly disheveled hair. A shirt across his skinny but sturdy frame from the merchandise collection of local rapper, ASAAD, who performed along side Ab-Soul later in the evening. It complimented the fans who sported Ab-Soul hat’s and hoodies, sprinkled liberally throughout the audience. A statement that he loved Philadelphia as much as they loved him.

The show was not held in the Wells Fargo Center and did not have dramatics of a rapper with a bottomless budget. Yet, Ab-Soul gave an amazing show, complete with segments and lighting changes throughout the performance. One of the momentous parts of the evening is when the crowd fell quiet in reverence in the dark theatre, when he performed “Track Two,” a song from Control System, one of his most popular projects. He covered his head with a shirt, giving the impression of a spiritual leader leading meditation rather than a rap concert. He mixed in oldies like “Jump Around” by House of Pain and recent hits from label mates SchoolBoy Q and Kendrick Lamar, a welcomed but rare occurrence at rap shows where an artist merely recites lyrics to song after song. At the end, Ab-Soul expressed his regret to leaving Philadelphia and promising to return before performing an encore, the perfect kiss goodnight. After, concert attendees, myself included, lingered in front of the theatre contemplating either afterparties, metaphysics, or when they would be reunited with the object of their affection at another show, another date.


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Photography by Saeed Briscoe.

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