Harlem rapper via Elmwood Park, New Jersey A$AP Rocky is proof positive that the new age, internet rap game does have some bright spots. Since 2011, Rocky has become the most prominent rapper under the handle A$AP, even if his raps are a bit lacking at times. He’s performed with Rihanna at the 2012 MTV VMAs; he’s played Lana Del Rey’s husband in the music video for “National Anthem,” and he’s signed a fat deal with SONY following the release of his second mix tape – Live.Love.A$AP.
Live.Love A$AP is one of the best sounding lies in the history of hip-hop. While the lyrics on this record are far from amazing, Rocky suffices to bring his audience a great mix tape. The production and the samples/beats are the true appeal; Rocky teamed up with greats like Clams Casino, ASAP Ty Beats, DJ Burn One, and SpaceGhostPurp. Regardless with how frustrated you felt by the end of Live.Love.A$AP, there was always promise in Rocky, a sense of someone to believe in. That despite his weak spots, he could surround himself with the right people and the right music.
2013 marks the release of his debut studio album, Long.Live.A$AP, and this time he brings an all-star, well rounded cast to the table, completely redefining who A$AP Rocky is.
Rocky brings amped up production to this release, as well as a set of beats and samples that are to be envied. Versatility is the game on Long.Live.A$AP, as Rocky keeps the album fresh with a combination triphop, dubstep, weed rap, boom-bap, commercial tracks; hell even Santigold brings some prestige to a track (“Hell”) here. It’s almost as if Rocky see’s himself as this vocal point, but instead of making it all about him, he takes all of these elements, guest vocalists, and beats and showcases them; like he’s giving his album to other people and saying: “make me look good.”
Tracks like “Goldie” celebrate excess in the distorted and hypnotic style that drugs and women provide to this culture. “PMW” featuring
Schoolboy Q feels like it should have come straight from good kid, m.A.A.d city, and continues to celebrate excess. “Wild for the Night,” which features Skrillex, manages to balance itself well, as Skrillex doesn’t overwhelm the track. Instead, he’s there at the right place, right time. The true genius of Rocky comes with the tracks “F**kin Problems” and “1Train” and just how streamlined the sheer number of guests are on these tracks. Sure, with the first track, the lyrics are typical of the rap game, but hot damn, the way 2 Chainz, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar trade off verses; it takes a genius to focus that. Even more so, with “1Train,” Rocky focuses an even larger cast in a track that feels like Eminem’s “Guilty Conscience” as it builds in urgency and Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Danny Brown, Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, and Yelawolf trade verses for six plus minutes of pure brilliance.
Sometimes it’s just fun to watch an artist from the start, evolve into something great, over a series of albums. Some take longer to get there, and sure, Rocky has a ways to go, but sometimes, the results along the way are just so stunning, that the future becomes less significant, if only trapped in the present. Rocky brings the best elements of himself on this record, through friends, colleagues, collaborations, and the people he respects, and subsequently got him here in the first place. A$AP Rocky is the guy that will have you believing that you will outlive the means by which you got here, even if it is the internet. Rocky is here for good; this album is proof of that.
Album Rating: Buy it on CD or Vinyl
Listener Co-efficient: Passive Listen
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