Back before ScHoolboy Q, the third artist to be fired like a cannonball from the TopDawg Entertainment camp, sold out his first solo show at the Key Club, we theorized that the local label was strategizing the rap game like a war. With two of its artists, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar, rising to national attention two years consecutively, and ScHoolboy Q gaining ground as well, they seem to be on the winning side.

But there still remained one rapper on the back lines, Carson, CA's Ab-Soul. Although he is a member of the Black Hippy forces (a powerhouse group that also includes Lamar, Rock, and Q) and has produced a couple of mixtapes, Ab-Soul was still the wild-haired (real-life?) hippie of the bunch–seemingly even more laid-back than the perennially half-lowered-eyelids cool of ScHoolboy Q.

With LongTerm Mentality, though, Ab-Soul might finally be going in to battle. The album, which was released just before midnight last night, is already number six on iTunes hip-hop charts.

A cursory listen reveals the roots of his marathon mentality (“I been chasin' this dream since Wayne made 'Bling Bling'”), but also his intuition that the time to strike is now (an army of clocks tick in “Time is of the Essence”).

“You know a little strategy, premeditation, wins races 9 times out of 10,” he raps over the BJ the Chicago Kid-graced “Almost There.”

Sure, slow, steady, and stealthy win the race. Maybe even the war.

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