Ab-Soul

Herbert Anthony Stevens IV (born February 23, 1987), better known by his stage name Ab-Soul, is an American hip hop recording artist from Carson, California. In 2007, he signed to indie record label Top Dawg Entertainment(TDE), where he eventually formed a hip hop supergroup Black Hippy, alongside his label-mates and fellow California-based rappers Jay Rock,Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q. He is perhaps best known for his introspective lyrics and his four independent albums under TDE, Longterm Mentality, Control System, These Days…, and Do What Thou Wilt., which were all released to positive reviews and commercial success.

Early life

Herbert Anthony Stevens IV was born on February 23, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. After his birth, his family relocated to Germany, where his biological father was stationed in the military. Stevens spent the first four years of his life in Germany, right up until his parents split and he and his mother subsequently moved back to the United States, to live in his grandmother’s house, in Carson, California. He once recalled being five years old: “I was serious into video games and basketball, at five. But video games for sure. Five… What was that, Nintendo? Sega. Sonic the Hedgehog. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV. But I know early on, I really, really liked Michael Jackson, like we all did. Newborn babies loved Michael Jackson.”

At the age of 10, Stevens contracted Stevens–Johnson syndrome, which caused him to be hospitalized and is the origin of his dark lips and light-sensitive eyes: “At ten years old, I got very sick. It was a pretty vivid day. I caught a rare virus called Steven-Johnson Syndrome. And it was very, very life-changing for me. It hindered my vision and my skin configuration. It definitely put a huge dent in my hoop dreams. I even kept trying to play. I tried to keep playing with my shades on, it was real funny when I think about it now. A lot of my friends were real cool about it. They wouldn’t make me feel different or anything like that, but I just kind of figured… I won’t have the sharp vision for that.” In his adolescent years however, Stevens was severely teased about his condition: “When I had got sick when I was younger of course it affected my lip skin, so coming up in school I had very dark lips and my eyes were low. I had to wear shades and shit. So I was quite peculiar. People teased me about my lips, and say I look high. I didn’t even start smoking weed, until after I graduated from high school.”

Stevens encountered music at a very young age, due to his family owning a record store. Stevens also began crafting his rapping skills at an early age: “I was on BlackPlanet freestyle chat, rapping my ass off. Text battle. It is a very interesting world. I think that it still exists online, where you freestyle but you type it. They call it keystyle. I think that is where I developed my rhyming skills. I had been rapping a little earlier, maybe around 12 [years old], but when I hopped online and into that culture, that textcee culture. It really got me going as far as being a rapper.”

Stevens claims to have written his first verse when he was 12 years old, to the beat of Twista’s “Emotions”: “I was like, I can do this; I’ll try it out. And I wrote it out. That’s a day I remember vividly. From that moment I’ve had a very keen interest in the whole craft. Being a big fan of words and making the real connection with them. Saying things that can make your eyes open up. I can say something and I can turn heads.” Rapping continued on as a hobby for Stevens, whose parents “saw a bright, college-type future” for him and enrolled him in advanced classes.

It was not until Stevens graduated from high school that he began to take his music career seriously: “I just wanted to be tight with [my raps] but I was growing a passion for it. Wasn’t until after I graduated from high school and checked into the community college that I realized I wanted to be a rapper full time. I probably did the equivalent of a half a semester total, in my attendance. I tried one semester and dropped out and then I tried another semester and dropped out. So it just didn’t work out.”/Gjithqka Nga Pak

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