Herbert Anthony Stevens IV ( 2/23/87), better known by his stage name Ab-Soul, is a musician from Carson, California signed to Top Dawg Entertainment and Interscope Records. Stevens originally was known as a member of hip hop group Black Hippy, along with fellow West Coast rappers and label-mates Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and SchooBoy Q. However Soulo, as he is also known, is has spent the last few years becoming a true master of his craft. He has so far released three independent studio albums under the label Top Dawg Entertainment, Lonterm Mentality, Control System, and These Days, and one album jointly with Interscope, Do What Thou Wilt.
Do What Thou Wilt is an axiom of Thelema, a form of Ritual Gnosticism developed by Aleister Crowley. It doesn’t mean that you do as you desire regardless of consequences, as often misunderstood but to find one’s divine purpose in the whole… basically. It has been discussed and described many places and I shall not expound on it here. One can research here, and makes ones own judgment.
Knowledge of various esoteric “mystery schools of thought” is peppered throughout his work. The song Pineal Gland off the album Control System flows flawlessly between both the imagery and concepts relating to those ancient fraternities, teachings and writings of Aleister Crowley, and oftentimes identical to the symbolism and occult teachings used by The Beatles. Being such a high caliber writer Soulo also employs a narrative displaying both the embodiment of the first person POV from The Beatles autobiographical narrative and the one of himself.
Soulo even at times draws associations between the two on controversial topics such as drug use and going against the grain or the status quo.
In the opening verse his intentions are made quite clear using references to The Beatles, eventually alluding to the feud between McCartney and Lennon and Paul Is Dead mythology.
It was all a dream, I swear it never happened
I wrote like Edgar Allan, I was po‘ like Edgar Allan
Edgar Allan Poe is a prominent figure within The Beatles in their entirety. Poe is featured on the cover of Sg.t Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as one of John Lennon’s favorite authors. Poe used symbolism and coded language to hide his real intentions throughout all of his work. John Lennon famously attributed his use of the same to being a fan of his, hence his presence on the infamous Sgt. Pepper cover. In fact if the Masonic square and compass are overlaid on the cover at 33 degrees one arm of the compass lines directly up with Poe and the other with Lewis Carroll.
Ab-Soul amazingly makes direct references to all of this not only in his own unique way but with a nuance that is very reminiscent of John Lennon’s own writing.
I don’t even know what’s real, I’m just being real
Making moves, you just another human being being still
Making moves, you just another human being being still-“Pineal Gland”
These lines directly refer to Strawberry Fields by The Beatles, written by Lennon, and the songs relate thematically as well. The following line is particularly impressive as it contains three parts, and each part is a direct nod to the Paul Is Dead mythology and the John Lennon/Faul Mccartney ongoing feud post-Beatles .
‘Cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is realAnd nothing to get hung about
Strawberry Fields forever
Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you seeIt’s getting hard to be someone
But it all works out
It doesn’t matter much to me
–Strawberry Fields The Beatles
Play the fool, you jealous dudes are just a plate of food
Play the Fool refers to Lennon’s song Fool on the Hill on off Magical Mystery Tour as well as Lennon’s song from The White Album, Glass Onion.
Paul McCartney stated in the February 1985 issue of Playgirl: “He (John) used to say, ‘Everyone is on the McCartney bandwagon.’ He wrote ‘I’m Just a Jealous Guy,’ and he said that the song was about me. So I think it was just some kind of jealousy.” >>
The fool on the hill is supposedly Mccartney’s replacement “Billy Shears”, more on that later, stay with me, and is a jab at Faul. Jealous dudes refers to Lennon’s post Beatles song Jealous Guy, another discreet poke at McCartney. In the late 70’s as Lennon was essentially a house husband to Yoko Ono, caring for their child and cooking and cleaning and on Wings at the Speed of Sound McCartney and his wife Linda made a song Cook of the House as a dig at Lennon. The following line further drives home point with Tell the truth, which is referring to Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth.
Tell the truth, I’m the coldest cat sabertooth
Blaze the booth, blaze the Buddha, this ain’t hookah
You hit this shit a few times, you might see the Future
I will update this post with more on this song and dedicate a section of the site to encompass Soulo’s work, as it is evident the breadth of skills will need a large space to breakdown.