Who are some of the other rappers you draw influence from? I respect Jay-Z the most, all and all. I feel like he just really covered everything evenly. It wasn’t too much of nothing and not too little of anything. So Jay, Lupe, Biggie, Pac ain’t really have enough of them rapper lines for me. You know what I’m saying? That rapper shit.
Well that’s some East Coast shit. Right, some East Coast shit. And how I started listening to rap caused me to miss out on a lot of that. I kinda missed that whole shit, I started rapping after all that shit. I remember working at a record shop and Tupac died and we were selling all the CDs. People were crying and shit. Now I’m trying to be a rapper and he was like really one of those guys. I kinda wish I was like… you know how everybody be saying they have an uncle or somebody that was just playing all that shit? I had none of that. When we’d close up the record shop it was silence at my house. It was just a business. Everybody listens to music, you know, but it definitely wasn’t like that. You listen to that shit all day long, you get your eight hours of music a day and you might not want to listen to nothing when you get home. But that shit came in handy when I started really getting into it because I had access right there. I could go back and get all the shit.
Do you study a lot of the classics then? Yeah definitely. I think that’s what we are in essence. Us in general, we’re really a collective of everybody that’s done it old and new.
Well that’s what drew me to you guys initially, it reminded me of stuff that I was listening to coming up like Souls of Mischief. Exactly. And [Q] probably hasn’t even heard of Souls of Mischief. You heard of Souls of Mischief? SCHOOLBOY Q: Souls of Mischief? I’ve heard of them but I ain’t never heard them.
It seems like you guys aren’t into very much West Coast rap at all. AB-SOUL: That’s the thing today. It’s all about changing your dynamic. Drake is from up north, he rap like he from down south. ASAP [Rocky] from New York but he rap like he from down south. They say we rap like we’re from the East Coast. It’s all about that shifting dynamic. You at ASAP and he look like a nigga from over here. You throw in all these different clashes of culture that people wouldn’t expect. We’ve got Q right here, he’s a real Crip gangsta. A real one for real. And he’s into high fashion and shit. This nigga wear Levi’s jackets and shit. If you were to see him out you might not know he’s a gangsta, he might look like a pretty boy. It’s just different cultures, clashing of culture. I’m talking about just exchanging ideas. I think we’re really starting to understand that ain’t nothing new. It’s nothing that ain’t been done. So really you gotta try to think outside of the box.
Everyone else speaks quite highly of your intelligence. Q called you the Albert Einstein of the crew. Yes. I got a large vocabulary for whatever reason, you know what I mean? I don’t really read a lot, I just listen a lot. [Q keeps talking shit, unintelligible] Aye I taught Q how to rap too, make sure you print that. Me and Kendrick we taught him how to rap! He just started rapping like four or five years ago. And since he keep talking know that I’mma sell more than him every time I put something out. Print that. SCHOOLBOY Q: Aye cuz I heard the conscious department at Interscope was looking to sign some conscious rappers. AB-SOUL: They got that bread? We’ll talk about it. We’ll put it together.
Do you see yourself as a conscious rapper? Who is not conscious? That’s dumb shit! That’s like Neo Soul. What is Neo my nigga? What Neo mean? From The Matrix? Jill Scott’s in the Matrix? Conscious rapper? I’m alive motherfucker, I’m aware, what you mean? That’s some dumb ass shit. Who is not conscious. If you’re not conscious you’re not rapping no more. Biggie is an unconscious rapper.
Is there a message to your music? I don’t even have no direct message, I try to talk about shit that effects everyday people. I’m just trying to share this information that I got, put it out there. You can agree with it, disagree with it, hold a debate about it.
Do you have siblings? Yeah.
So you’re used to being given a hard time? No, I’m actually the oldest so I don’t hear no shit from them. Just these guys. Everybody else thinks I’m the tightest in the world, these guys… I don’t know. You can’t show weakness. That’s street shit if you didn’t know that. You gotta be tough about it.