Of all the prospects housed by the TDE namesake, Ab-Soul’s ascent has caused the most anxiety. I’m a huge fan of Soulo's work, and have been since Long Term: The Mixtape, but while I’ve watched the Carson Arsonist evolve immensely over the past six years, I’ve yet to see him have his genuine moment in the spotlight alongside TDE stars Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock.
Whether the forthcoming Do What Thou Wilt. presents that moment is yet to be seen, but regardless of the disservice it could potentially be doing to his career, I'm ready for the album's release this Friday (December 9).
Yesterday (December 6), Ab released the tracklist to DWTW, and after the initial heartbreak of Kendrick, Jay Rock, and Isaiah Rashad missing in action subsided, what immediately grabbed my attention was the diversity in production on the album.
While his first two releases leaned heavily on TDE in-house producers like Sounwave, Tae Beast, and label president Dave Free, Soulo's past two projects have found him expanding his circle of producers, and DWTW is another step in that direction. Across 16 tracks, there are a whopping 14 producers on the LP, ranging from familiar names to near obscurity.
Let’s take an in-depth look at who’s behind the boards for Soulo’s next outing in the order they appear on the album.
Juice Of All Trades
Credit: “Raw (Backwards)” ft. Zacari
Portuguese producer and recording engineer Juice Of All Trades has engineering credits for Interscope, Dreamville, Roc Nation and more on his resume, but the only production credits I could find with his name attached are for Chris Webby's Chemically Imbalanced and Webster’s Laboratory 2 projects. His production on Webby’s “Chemical Romance” is bombastic and bassy, and if he gives Soul something similar to work with, I’ll be very happy with DWTW’s opener.
Credit: “Braille” ft. Bas
We’ve already heard “Braille,” so Wondagurl’s work speaks for itself. The Canadian producer has already produced bangers for the likes of Young Thug, Drake, and Travis $cott, so “Braille” is just another notch in the belt of a Boi-1Da’s rising protege.
Credit: “Huey Knew” ft. Da$h
As a member of Digi+Phonics with TDE in-house producers Tae Beast, Sounwave and Dave Free, Willie B. is well represented in Soul’s discography. “Huey Knew” was actually the first track we heard off DWTW, setting the tone for a politically-charged, hard-hitting project from Soul.
Credits: “Threatening Nature”, “Portishead in the Morning/Her World”, “God’s a Girl?”
It seems that instead of relying on Digi+Phonics, Soul has been steady building his own version of TDE’s in-house power quartet with PakkMusicGroup. The collective is comprised of Python P, Lord Legend, and NorthStarDaGod, and if you’re well acquainted with Soulo’s catalog, you know he’s been shouting them out for a while now. We’ve heard what they did on “Threatening Nature,” and considering their extensive history with Soul, I can only imagine they have a great working chemistry that will be heavily showcased on this album.
DJ Fu of Eardrummers
Hailing from Minnesota, DJ Fu is one of the eight in-house producers that comprise Mike Will Made-It’s EarDrummers Entertainment. His production credits are mostly relegated to group efforts for EarDrummers and some solo work with relatively unknown artists, but his sonic aesthetic fits in well with his EarDrummers family. We can feasibly expect some sultry southern production on this one.
Credit: “Invocation” ft. Kokane
LA-based producer Rahki has been working with DJ Khalil for years, and has four GRAMMY’s under his belt, including one in 2015 for Best Rap Song with Kendrick Lamar’s “i.” Rahki also produced “Stigmata” off Ab’s last album These Days…—one of the standout cuts from the album—so my hopes are high for his work on this track.
Credits: “Wifey vs. Wifi/PMS” ft. Br3, “Beat the Case ft. ScHoolboy Q/Straight Crooked”
Skhye Hutch is another producer whose work you’re familiar with without even knowing it. An affiliate of Digi+Phonics, Skhye has produced extensively for TDE since the Section.80 era, and is responsible for one of Ab-Soul’s strongest tracks, “ILLuminate.” We already know what he and Soul are capable of; hopefully, that chemistry continues with these offerings.
Credit: “Beat the Case ft. ScHoolboy Q/Straight Crooked”
Tae may only have a co-production role on this album, but you can bet that the TDE in-house producer was present for much of DWTW’s creation. One of TDE’s strongest attributes is their near monopolization of dope West Coast production, and with every release, we’re reminded of how well they all work together as a team.
Credit: “Portishead in the Morning/Her World”
Though they’re sharing production credits with PakkMusicGroup on this one, essentially making it a production posse cut, Antydote’s presence will definitely be felt. Another production powerhouse supplying magic to TDE, the Chattanooga collective seem to be an addition brought on by the signing of Isaiah Rashad in 2014.
A$AP P On The Boards
Credit: “Now You Know”
A$AP Mob member A$AP P On The Boards has been supplying the East Coast collective with heat for years, and now he’s ready to turn his talents loose elsewhere. Responsible for NY bangers like “Bath Salt” with the rest of the Mob featuring Flatbush Zombies and “Coke and White Bitches” with A$AP Ant, it’s safe to assume this track is going to be absolutely filthy.
Credits: “D.R.U.G.S.”, “Evil Genius” ft. Teedra Moses and Javonté
Toronto-based producer FrancisGotHeat has handled the behind the boards work for the likes of Roy Woods, Kidd Kidd, and Tre Mission, and we just recently got to experience his work on the piano-driven banger D.R.U.G.S., which Soul released a video for earlier today (December 7). Being tapped by both the OVO crew and TDE most likely means you’re going to see the name FrancisGotHeat a lot more in the future.
Credit: “Evil Genius” ft. Teedra Moses and Javonté
DWTW is basically a reunion for everyone that has produced for TDE over the last five years. GRAMMY-winning producer Tommy Black is responsible for Kendrick Lamar’s “Institutionalized,” as well as a slew of other TDE gems dating all the way back to Kendrick’s “Heaven & Hell” off his Overly Dedicated project. With him and FrancisGotHeat splitting the duties on “Evil Genius,” it’s sure to be a standout.
Credit: “Lonely Soul” ft. Punch / “The Law (Prelude)” ft. SZA
At this point, I shouldn’t have to tell you who Sounwave is. The producer/A&R has been with TDE since the very beginning and is involved in—if not directly responsible for—many of your favorites from the TDE camp. Considering his two credits on this album are both with TDE family members, the chemistry should be palpable.
Credits: “The Law” ft. Mac Miller and Rapsody, “YMF”
While there isn’t much info available on Bentley’s background, the rising producer already has credits with Freddie Gibbs, Alex Wiley, and Kembe X under his belt, all of which showcased a dope and diverse sonic aesthetic. Given that he was tasked with producing arguably the most anticipated collaboration on this album, Bentley will surely gain some legitimate buzz off this release.
By Brent Bradley. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: TDE