Herbert Anthony Stevens IV, better known as Ab-Soul, was born in California in 1987. When he was 10, the boy was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome. This rare disease affected the rapper’s eyesight, making his eyes sensitive to light. Since then, Herbert has been wearing sunglasses at all times to protect his eyes outdoors and indoors.
When Ab-Soul was 12, he started writing lyrics. His first song was “Emotions”. After graduating from high school and enrolling to college, the young man became a professional rapper. He recorded his debut track in 2002.
Ab-Soul always tried hard to keep away from the criminal life. That’s why he jokingly called himself an outcast of the Black Hippy group. The reason was that the rest of the group members grew up on the streets. For a long time, Stevens’ family held a music store, where the boy spent all of his free time.
When he turned 13, Stevens became a big fan of Jay Z, Eminem, and Canibus. At 15, he started participating in chat battles, competing against other rappers in freestyling over the internet. At the same time, Ab-Soul met a producer Sounwave, who later helped the rapper become famous.
In 2005, Ab-Soul signed a contract with StreetBeat Entertainment. A year later, he met the director of Top Dawg Entertainment. Stevens became part of the team but released his first official mixtape only four years later. At the same time, he was accepted into Black Happy, the other members of which were Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and ScHoolboy Q.
In 2010, the rapper released a new mixtape, Longterm 2: Lifestyles of the Broke and Almost Famous. A year later, Ab-Soul presented his debut LP, Longterm Mentality. The album reached the 73rd spot of Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. The next album, Control System, which came out in 2012, became even more popular than the predecessor. It earned a number of positive reviews from the critics and reached the 9th spot on Top Rap Albums Chart. Many clubs tried to book Ab-Soul for private events.
The year 2012 was tough for the rapper. His close friend killed herself. She worked with Black Hippy. The young woman’s voice appeared in some of the Stevens’ tracks featured in Longterm Mentality. Her death affected Soul’s performance and inspiration. It became the key subject of his next songs.
When talking about that period in his life, Ab-Soul says that he lost his world and found a new one simultaneously. In his new album, the rapper shared thoughts about many things in life, including politics and technologies. The single “The Book Of Soul” became popular among the rapper’s fans since it talked about what he truly felt about his life, starting from the childhood health problems and ending with the death of a friend.
Even though Ab-Soul had to go through hard times, he didn’t stop working. Shortly, he began recording a new album. Since the rapper didn’t have an exclusive contract with Top Dawg Entertainment, they often had disagreements about plans for albums.
Ab-Soul’s fans were terribly disappointed when the label cancelled the rapper’s plans to record an album with JMSN. It should have come out as UNIT 6. It was expected to be an impressive project, which should have helped both artists earn more popularity. Instead of a 12-track album, the singers released two singles “Nibiru” and “You’re Gone”.
The next album recorded by Ab-Soul was expected to be special. He decided to create an LP using the modern hip-hop approach. While working on the LP, the singer was inspired by Jay-Z. These Days…, released in 2014, became highly successful, reaching the 11th spot of Billboard 200.
After a short break, during which Ab-Soul was trying to settle his differences with the label, the rapper released a new LP, Do What Thou Wilt. It came out in 2016. The artist was satisfied with the way his songs reflected human willpower and love. The album reached the 6th spot of Top Rap Albums Chart.
Ab-Soul continues recording new hits and performing live.