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The 50 Best Albums of 2012

20. Ab-Soul, Control System

Label: Top Dawg Entertainment
Released: May 11

Earlier this year we made an analogy comparing TDE to the Oklahoma City Thunder and compared Durant to Kendrick, Westbrook to Schoolboy, and Harden to Ab-Soul. That was before Harden got traded and became a franchise player for the Rockets, but we're sticking to our original comparison.

Ab-Soul isn't quite there yet, but on Control System it's quite obvious he's on his way. Soul is on a quest to be both vicious and pensive. He chooses his words carefully (Kendrick and Schoolboy don't call him the human dictionary for nothing) and delivers them passionately. And there's more depth to message than the average rapper. Ultimately what sets Soul apart from his Black Hippy counterparts is the way he weaves politics into his raps. "Dear Barack," he raps, "I know you just a puppet but I'm giving you props/You lying to the public like it ain't nothing/And I just love it, I hope it don't stop."

Soul often sounds like he's on the verge of going into a long-winded conspiracy theory, but luckily, he never quite does. Instead, he just goes off on the mic. Something he best summarizes spitting, "Just imagine if Einstein got high and sipped juice/Broke rules, got pussy, beat up rookies on Pro Tools." Okay, it wouldn't sound exactly like this. But it wouldn't be far off either. -IA

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