Ab-Soul: “I didn't really get into [digging in the crates] until I became like 14 or 15. That’s when I started going back and doing my research on the whole art form. But I'm just a big fan of music. It's a lot of songs that I know right now that I could sing to you. I couldn't even tell you who sung them.
“More than anything, [I’m influenced by] my team. You can hear that in my music. Because these are really my brothers. These are the guys that I'm with most of the time. So you are going to hear them rubbing off on me.
“But I pull from everybody man. I'm a fan of the culture. I'm a fan. I listen to 2 Chainz, I listen to Chief Keef, and I listen to Eminem. So I'm just a fan. I can draw inspiration from everybody.
I could quote bars from Joe Budden right now, like he's one of the guys that really influenced us. He's one of the guys that was really himself and wasn't ashamed of that. Cassidy, Lloyd Banks, and Fabolous were all a big part of rap at one time. The mixtape rappers, that was a very critical part of hip-hop.
"I am highly influenced by guys like Eminem, Kanye West, and Joe Budden. Just regular guys that know how to express themselves and aren't afraid of that. Even if it may not be cool. Like Joe Budden don't smoke weed; he smokes cigarettes. I like that shit. My homies will think that's nasty. But he's comfortable enough in his own skin to admit that. I really think that Joe Budden's first album is probably ahead of its time, like really. I thought it was a classic myself. And I really like Mood Muzik 2 too.
"It's got to do that. It's got take new forms. It's got to try to reinvent itself so we can grow. Every branch on the tree is not going to survive. But we're going to keep growing. It's crazy because coming up in this shit I always mention guys like Eminem and Jay-Z and Kanye west, but I never mention guys like Joe Budden or like Royce Da 5’ 9”—the real rappers that influenced us but a lot of times go unsaid.
“I could quote bars from Joey right now, like he's one of the guys that really influenced us. He's one of the guys that was really himself and wasn't ashamed of that. Cassidy, Lloyd Banks, and Fabolous were all a big part of rap at one time. The mixtape rappers, that was a very critical part of hip-hop. Even Lil' Wayne of course. These guys are real critical to the art form. Sometimes they get overlooked. It's crazy when you just really look back. It's a lot of guys that played a major part in this whole development.
"That's why we're here. We watched everything [they did right and wrong]. Trial-error. Good-bad. Who's cool, who's not. We watched the whole thing so now we're here. We're students of the game. I ain't going to lie, we really study the game as if it was homework. I could do Cassidy, I could do Joe Budden, I could do Eminem, I could do Drake. We just try to be as well-rounded as possible.”