Rapper Ab-Soul is back with 'Herbert,' a memoir in album form NPR's A Martinez talks to Herbert Anthony Stevens IV, better known as rapper Ab-Soul, about his new album: Herbert. The new songs are all about grief.

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

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

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

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Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

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

Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

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.