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Rapper Ab-Soul is back with 'Herbert,' a memoir in album form

Ab-Soul, photographed at the TDE Pool Party on July 18, 2021 in LA.
Jerritt Clark
Getty Images
Ab-Soul, photographed at the TDE Pool Party on July 18, 2021 in LA.

Updated December 20, 2022 at 10:38 AM ET

Content warning: This story contains discussion of suicide.

Evocation and humor are two centrally important tools for a rapper – but when Ab-Soul describes his approach to a new album, released last week, he says he "didn't want to have the most punchlines, the most metaphors." It's a striking creative departure for an artist known as "a rapper's rapper."

That pivot was caused, in part, by a very difficult experience during the pandemic, when he went through what he's referred to as "a suicidal blackout" at the height of lockdown. Now, after a long hiatus, the TDE-signed Ab-Soul has returned with Herbert – its title is his real name and, in the spirit of those last couple of years, it can often resemble a memoir. One in which he is trying to come to terms with how grief has changed him.

To hear this conversation, use the audio player at the top of this page.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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