Ab-Soul Brings His Classics to NPR Tiny Desk Concerts

Jaelani Turner-Williams Jaelani Turner-Williams is a contributing news writer for Okayplayer with…
Photo Credit: NPR Music

Continuing their Black History Month celebration, NPR Tiny Desk Concerts showcased Ab-Soul, who released new album Herbert in December.

“We offer our vibes, what do you bring to the table?” asked Ab-Soul during his first appearance on NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. Released on Thursday morning (February 23), the Top Dawg Entertainment rapper brought NPR Music selections from new album HERBERT and 2012’s Concert System. Ab-Soul, legal name Herbert Stevens IV, opened the 20-minute performance with “Message in A Bottle,” with support from backing vocalists Zacari, Nolec Yashin and Lance Skiiwalker, the latter who also handled effects.

With a seven-piece band, including keyboardist and musical director Amaire Johnson, Stevens performed “Bohemian Grove,” “IT BE LIKE THAT,” “FOMF,” “Terrorist Threats,” “FALLACY,” “DO BETTER,” “The Book of Soul,” and “GOTTA RAP.” Calling his live band the “Soulersystem,” the Carson native also acknowledged the golden jubilee of hip-hop: “We just here to restore the feeling. What you say? Fifty years of hip hop?” he asked.

The Tiny Desk Performance also had a sentimental touch, with Stevens wearing a jacket with the image of one of his best friends, DoeBurger, who passed away in 2021. Surrounding the desk were framed pictures of the 36-year-old “MOONSHOOTER” rapper, some graphically capturing his affliction with Stevens-Johnson syndrome. This rare disorder would ultimately hinder his eyesight.

Released on December 16, Stevens’ fifth studio album, HERBERT, features Joey Bada$$, Big Sean, SiR, Russ, Jhené Aiko, Fre$h, Ambre, Zacari, Lance Skiiiwalker, TDE President, Punch, and more.

Watch Ab-Soul’s full Tiny Desk Concert below.

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