NY rapper A$AP Rocky has found a quick road to stardom, after creating a heavy buzz with his Live.Love.ASAP mixtape, which almost instantaneously found him as part of the major label system. Landing at this moment now, Rocky is holding a massive hit with the posse cut with “Fuckin’ Problem”, and a sure shot follow-up collaboration with Skrillex, “Wild For The Night”. All eyes on him, young Rakim Mayers (yes, named after The R) releases his debut LP, Long.Live.A$AP via his own imprint under RCA.
With his A$AP Mob crew in tow, this story sounds a lot like a New York version of the Odd Future tale of a few years back. And like the music of Tyler The Creator and his crew, much of A$AP’s music is unapologetically underground, with murky beats and screw’d up vocals. While the up-tempo single “Fuckin’ Problem” is sure to inspire any club dance floor, thanks to high-profile guest shots from Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, and Drake, 40′s production is still rooted in dark territory. The same can be said for much of the album, which is a much darker take on this sound, with murky songs like the title track and “Pain” utilizing understated, Odd Future-esque production. Even higher profile collaborations like “Hell” (feat. Santigold) and “PMW (All I Really Need)” (feat. Schoolboy Q) kind of plod along with the lo-fi tone and aimless subject matter of the rest of the LP.
The difference in quality when more experienced producers are brought into the mix is testament to almost amateurish approach some of the set’s younger beatmakers have taken in producing this LP. Hit Boy’s infectious “Goldie” fits in with the rest of the album well, but has an obvious level of higher quality in it’s execution. The same can be said for the Danger Mouse-helmed “Phoenix”, arguably the best non-single on the album, which gives us a rare glimpse into Rocky’s suicidal tendencies, while much of the rest of the LP is spent waxing on and on about pussy-money-weed.
“Wild For The Night” is probably the album’s best track, as Skrillex and Birdy Nam Nam fashion a trap fueled club banger that is sure to set the blueprint for the hot sound of 2013, despite sticking out from the rest of the tracklist. “1 Train”, an almost backpack version of “Fuckin’ Problem”, also stands out, with a XXL Freshmen-eque guest list, featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and Big K.R.I.T.
Ultimately what we find on Long.Live.A$AP is that Rocky is at his best when paired with the right collaborators. With a cult following at his young age, it’s clear that he has a lengthy career ahead of him, but he needs his production to catch up with his rapidly increasing popularity. In a way, Rocky’s debut is like the Tical of this generation; it’s a brooding, dark LP that will be misunderstood by the people that bought it for it’s catchy radio singles.
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