Album Review

LONG.LIVE.A$AP

LONG.LIVE.A$AP

by A$AP Rocky


Universal
8 / 10
5th March 2013

Reviewed by Glen Meltzer


A$AP Rocky (or to his mom Rakim Mayers) is the frontrunner of the Harlem based A$AP Mob, and in very little time has gone from relative obscurity/performing/partying around underground New York, to being hailed as one of the most important rap figures of his generation. Mayers’ debut album (after two critically acclaimed mixtapes) is delivered with enormous amounts of anticipation. In typical Hip-Hop fashion the young rapper constantly kept announcing delays to the release of his album, frustrating many fans (including this reviewer) but kept building anticipation with singles and video teasers.

At a glance over the track listing, it is strikingly obvious that there is a distinct company of only fresh talent on the album. It is incredibly common for younger, emerging Hip-Hop artists to feature older legendary rap figures on their albums (see Childish Gambino) as a kind of win-win for each artist. Yet most featured on A$AP Rocky’s latest venture would scarcely have been heard of even five years ago. Most indicative of this is stand out track ‘1Train’, featuring an ensemble of current generation-defining rappers over pretty much your typical structure-less 1990s underground Hip-Hop track. One after each other Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T. all lay down verses in this rolling colossus of a song, a definite high point in the album.

Stand out tracks include ‘Fashion Killa’ – a slickly produced track that plays out as an ode from Rocky to a certain fashionable lady-friend (possibly Victoria’s Secret model Chanel Iman). ‘Phoenix’ is an elevating ballad that could be made into an incredible video if put into the right hands. This album’s production quality ups the ante from previous releases, in part due to major record label financing, but also due to the attention to detail. Every track has some of the best production in modern Hip-Hop, some in part to Rocky’s own producer influence – listed in the liner notes as his alter ego ‘LORD FLACKO’.

However, every album has its low points. For what it’s worth, hit single ‘F__kin’ Problems’ is a terrible track to listen to. In theory it should be amazing - Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Drake and 2 Chainz – all respected artists at the peak of their resolute. Yet this track’s chorus is dull, excessively repetitive, and just overly invasive. Its only saviour is a particularly profound delivery by Kendrick Lamar, one of the brightest up-and-coming stars in music today, who seemingly usurps Rocky’s aptitude on every track he features on.

LONG.LIVE.A$AP as a whole is a great piece of work, but there is a lot it’s creator can learn for future releases. While Rocky is an incredibly good rapper vocally, it feels like his lyrics themselves are occasionally unmemorable and it remains to be seen if he can match his delivery with his pen. That being said, the 24-year-old has plenty of years ahead of him to develop.




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