A$AP Rocky - Long Live A$AP
A$AP Rocky is not a particularly great rapper, nor will he ever be considered one. What he is though, is a talented individual with a knack for creating great Houston-rap inspired party songs. He also has a penchant for picking extremely talented artists to collaborate with, and then expertly incorporating his style to match with those artists. In 2011, he released the stellar mixtape Live Love A$AP, a murky collection of songs anchored by hit singles like “Peso” and “Bass”, and on his first major label album, he manages to avoid the trap similar artists like Big K.R.I.T. or Dac Racist fell into by surpassing the quality of his buzz-worthy mixtape on nearly every level. While it may not be an all time classic like Kendrick’s latest, Long Live A$AP is one of the better rap albums to come around in a while, mixing a near perfect blend of Rocky’s rapping, heavyweight guest stars, and some truly memorable production.
A$AP Rocky’s previous work has been largely defined by the skilled producers who provide beats for him, and they serve as an important factor throughout this album. There are only two Clams Casino tracks on this album, yet each of them is great. “LVL” excels with its hazy undertones that never get too in your face, and then “Hell” incorporates a smooth chorus by Santigold that flows perfectly with the almost triumphant waves of sound that layer over Rocky’s solid raps. Clams Casino has proven that his beats can stand on their own without rappers, but Rocky does help bring these tracks to another level.
The next superstar producer to add to this album is Hit-Boy, who delivers with his bombastic beats to the already hit single “Goldie”, the ultimate party track that has been circulating the blogs and campus parties since early last year. He brings it again on the excellent “1 Train”, a who’s who of talented young rappers such as Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown, Joey Badass, Action Bronson, Big K.R.I.T., and Yelawolf”. Each of them provides a great verse as they all bring their “A” game to try and steal the track. Rocky may have the least personality of any of these rappers, but he serves as the glue that holds this track, and the album as a whole, together. In fact, it’s a smart move to team up with these more talented rappers rather than the A$AP Mob. We all know how bland their most recent mixtape was. There are some surprising producers on this album, Danger Mouse on the low key bluesy “Phoenix” and Skrillex on the reggae inspired, glitch-filled, and schizophrenic “Wild For The Night”, a track that works way better than anyone thought it should. Rocky proves he can excel at making his own beats too on the great closer “Suddenly”, a song that works wonders in building tension without ever dropping.
He is known for his party songs, and this album is full of them. “PMW” is another great Schoolboy Q team up, and “Fashion Killa” is pretty much Rocky just goin on about all the designer clothes he wears. It may not be easy to relate to, but it’s not bad to jam out to. Of course, there are also the two singles of “Fuckin Problem” and the title track. The former is already extremely memorable from 2 Chainz’s rousing chorus to Drake’s catchy hooks and Kendrick’s amazing raps to the point that Rocky almost gets overshadowed on his own track. It doesn’t matter though, because the track is just so exciting. Perhaps his biggest statement is from the title track, in where he kicks off the album with electrifying verses that almost seem to tell his story as he boasts, brags, and challenges death. It’s a great leadoff track to a great album, already one of the best of the year. It doesn’t matter if A$AP Rocky isn’t necessarily a great rapper, because he’s making some of the best music around.
- David Sackllah