Glory In The Weight

Over its 13 unhurried, meditative songs, Tab-One’s 2022 release ‘Glory in the Weight’ drips with wisdom and peace of mind.

Glory In The Weight

A lot has happened in the life of Raleigh rapper Tab-One since he and the five other founding members of hip-hop group Kooley High released the album David Thompson in 2011, more than a decade ago.

These events have varied widely, from the professional (Rapsody, one of the other emcees in the group, split off to pursue a solo career, ultimately earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album) to the personal (Tab moved back from Brooklyn to Raleigh, got married, settled into a nine-to-five, and had two children) and the utterly random (Tab and his wife Whitney were featured on the house-hunting HGTV reality show Love It or List It in 2017).

In between occasional releases from Kooley High, Tab-One has also made three solo albums of his own, expanding on his ideas and enjoying the extra legroom within instrumentals that don’t have to be shared with other emcees. The result has been a sound not altogether unfamiliar from that of Kooley High but with clear, albeit subtle, differences: less boisterous, more measured; a tad less optimistic, a bit more world-weary.

On his excellent, meditative new release, Glory in the Weight, that weariness isn’t completely gone—how could it be, after 15-plus years in rap?—but it’s matched with a sense of contentment and self-assurance that makes every song drip with wisdom and makes the album some of the best, most enjoyable work of Tab’s solo career.

Over the course of 13 pleasantly unhurried songs that move with all the urgency of a humid North Carolina afternoon, Tab touches on a handful of familiar themes: perseverance, family, creativity, and mental health. But unlike his previous album, Balancing Act, on which some verses were particularly literal (“Now my son talkin’ ’bout a waffle on his plate / Hit him with the gummy vitamins, now he’s straight”), Glory creates more points of entry by staying higher-level. On the song “Cool It Down,” Tab speaks to the universal feeling of bygone youth, rapping, “Remember when we used to rock to make the party start / Now it’s hard to party, we just tryin’ to make solid art.”

It’s a line that could easily come off as resigned or bitter on another album, but within the confident, unbothered context of Glory, it doesn’t—it’s just a neutral statement of fact. Time passes, life changes, and we don’t have to pretend otherwise. And that, like the many other affirmations on this album, is a real load off.

2024 Editor's Note: Check out Tab's newest release, "Peace & Quiet" on YouTube and Bandcamp.