Earlier this week Ab-Soul of TDE dropped the video for his new single, “Pineal Gland,” which will appear on his forthcoming project, Control System, due out May 11th. The video, for those of you familiar with French cinema, is a direct descendent of Gaspar Noe’s 2009 Cannes hit, Enter the Void, both in its first-person cinematography and subject matter.
Similar to Noe’s film, “Pineal Gland” the video begins in the first-person perspective of Ab-Soul. You can see the blunt protruding from his mouth as he enters his homie’s crib. At this point, Soul has either ingested some sort of psychedelic compound, most likely DMT, or he is about to. DMT, dimethyltryptamine, is a naturally occurring psychedelic, which most often induces a state of complete detachment from outside reality. In Soul’s words, you become “conscious in a coma.”
Furthermore, Soul is contemplating on record whether his rap career is in fact real, or perhaps a drug-induced dream-state. That’s what he means when he raps, “I don’t even know what’s real, I’m just being real.” Soul figures he will just continue to be ‘real’ and push his rap career forward, while all the other human beings remain still and fail to pursue their dreams.
Then comes the part where Soul shits on other rappers - no one in particular. After all, “who the fuck invited them” into Soul’s rap fantasy; “They failed in testing like what’s inside of them.” Perhaps Soul is referring to the wave of gimmick rappers, who constantly fight over the next catch-phrase hook and then tack on a few throwaway verses. To make his point clear, Soul channels the flow from 2 Chainz’ “Spend It” and says, “It’s mine, I spend it, my mind... is spinning, your time... is ticking.”
In the third and final verse Soul takes a short break from the Edgar Allan Poe macabre, and exhibits why he’s also a respected emcee. His line about Chanel is priceless, “We overseas back-to-back, never wore Chanel.” If you contemplate the Chanel logo for long enough, and lose sight of its accustomed shape, you notice it’s merely two back-to-back C’s. We lose sight of such things when we are not on drugs.
All in all, records like “Pineal Gland” have TDE fans curious, and of course excited, about Soul’s forthcoming release, Control System. Will it continue on in the same vein as “Pineal Gland”, and make all of Soul’s dreams ‘reality’? Or will it explore other subject matter visible through our (very blunted) third eye? My guess is about as good as yours. At the end of the video for “Pineal Gland” Soul wakes up in a green meadow while murmuring foreign prayer. From the outside in, I suppose that’s what rap looks like.