California rappers Ab-Soul and Jay Rock may both be a part of the Black Hippy rap quartet, along with ScHoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar, but the two emcees also boast a number of differences as artists. During an exclusive interview with XXL magazine, both Soulo and Rock hit on their lack of similarities, both geographically and musically.
“I just think it’s cool that you can spot an immediate distinction between the two of us; that you don’t think we’re so similar,” said Ab-Soul. “We’re both from LA—but he’s from Watts; I’m from Carson. It’s like different boroughs, so we are completely different. The way we talk, our dialect is different—from where he lives and vice versa. To one person, Jay Rock may come across as ‘this’ or someone who does ‘this’ and to others he may be telling their story. It’s dope to me that you at least spot—whatever your opinion is, pick your poison, whatever’s your flavor—I’m glad you spot an immediate difference, that we both have different fingerprints. That’s very important.”
While Ab-Soul and Jay Rock may not share too many commonalities, Rock says those in Black Hippy have been working with one another for so long that you can hear the influence of the others in a particular member’s music.
“If you ever listen to us or been following us, you understand we all feed off each other,” said Rock. “If you listen to all our albums, you hear a little of everybody [in everybody else] because we’ve been around each other so long like family. It’s hard to explain. Soul, he can explain it better than I can. But when we hear each other’s stuff, we all get motivated by listening to each other.
“I want to elaborate on what Soul was talking about earlier: A lot of people don’t really know that I was the foundation,” he added. “Everywhere I went, they was with me. A lot of people don’t really understand how long it took, the grind that we did in a 12-passenger van, driving from California to Maine in this one van with all of us. It’s still crazy. I’m still learning. Even though I was the forefront, I’m still learning, too.”
Later in the interview, Soul spoke briefly on TDE’s gradual rise from the bottom to where they are now as artists, and also stressed the importance of teamwork.
“I think we’re showing the importance of a movement, of teamwork and having a machine [behind you],” said the rapper. “We’re not just co-workers. We really fell asleep in the studio with Jay Rock, working on songs. We really hustled together from the bottom, all of us. We didn’t just meet each other here and got record deals, you feel what I’m saying? We really all started together with nothing. If anything, this should represent ‘teamwork makes the dream work.’”
Consisting of Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul, Black Hippy was reportedly formed in Los Angeles around 2009. While each emcee in Black Hippy has released solo mixtapes and/or albums, the group has yet to release a joint project. In an August 2012 interview, Ab-Soul stated that a Black Hippy album would “never” happen.