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January 2013
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“Long.Live.A$AP” by A$AP Rocky Album Review

Here is our  review of A$AP Rocky’s latest album “Long.Live.A$AP.”This generation’s rap culture is more money and women than strength of character, revolution, and giving a voice to the real-life struggle of so many.  That’s not necessarily as awful as it may seem, though.  While not substantial,  the decade’s hip-hop hits have been club-bangers and ass-shakers, bringing people together on (and off) the dance floor.  It’s an escape, but how long of a career can you have praising Ciroc on deck and beauty that fades.

Among the same, Harlem shaped the unique talent that is A$AP Rocky.  The 24 year-old, MC Rakim Mayers, released a mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP (2011), befriended fashion heavy-hitters Jeremy Scott and Alexander Wang, and has collaborated with artists like media waited, and waited,…and waited until the release his major label debut, Long.Live.A$AP,  to really sink its teeth into his rap game chops.  Inspired by his past, yet influenced by his present, A$AP Rocky is clearly striving to be the voice of the future, but with relative success.

The album features 15 tracks, boasting gun shots and plenty of “fuck” bombs.  The title, and opening track, features Rocky’s voice floating above a dub bass that’s eerie, invasive.  The tale of a hard-knock life over a hard-knock beat, it repeatedly boasts the line, “I know I’ll probably die in prison,” but that’s all Rocky gives.  “Jodye” “Angels” and “Ghetto Symphony” are similar, with Mayers giving the listener a taste, but never letting the listener in.  Each track provides an experience, both intimidating and accessible, yet not enough to push through the wall.  There is a story to be told, but maybe Mayers isn’t really ready, which exudes potential.

A$AP Rocky

His more clichéd attempts are sadly more successful, though his second single, “Fuckin’ Problems” has a lot of fucking problems.  A$AP Rocky isn’t necessarily a great rapper, but a talented wordsmith with an undeniable swagger that is infectious, adding to his new persona, his desire to ‘A(lways) S(trive) A(nd) P(ropser).  However, over and over again he is out-rapped.  Drake and Kendrick Lamar shine on “Fuckin’ Problems” while Rocky becomes a supporter, same goes on his super-collaboration with Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and Big K.R.I.T on “Train.”  While the weakest tracks, “Fashion Killa” and “Up All Night” featuring dubstep, poster child, Skrillex, rely on over-production and boasts of young, cash money that are more obnoxious than can be taken at face value.

Lackluster attempts aside,  there are moments of greatness.  “Hell” featuring Santigold and “Goldie” are  addicting with their wit and reminiscence of Rocky’s Live.Love.A$AP -that deep, south trill A$AP brought to life.  The album’s greatest track is “Suddenly” -a spoken word anthem over a gospel fade.  “You my brother, you my kin, fuck the color of your skin” is a juvenile display of knowledge, but knowledge none the less, which is refreshing in its simple innocence but impactful still.  His references are real, but never fully realized.

At the end, it’s hard to define.  Is it too-hype, hyphy, too chill? Where does A$AP Rocky belong or does he really not have to?  This album has cut out its own place, on its own middle ground.  But if this, “new King of New York” wants to keep that title, he has to push himself.  Sonically, there is too much smoke to make out a true identity, but lyrically, the young MC’s potential is limitless…and everything is still purple.

About Jessi

Jessi was born and raised in Chicago, but she left her heart in NYC. She has been to more concerts than days of school, but somehow still made her way to university. Her idea of fun is an evening of karaoke to the worst songs of the '90s while a lit cigarette lies burning in the corner. She used to refer to herself as an "aspiring music journalist" but one day, she just woke up and decided she was one. That being said, she's always writing and always hungry for more. Anything of the 'rock' persuasion gets her motor running, ya dig? Follow her on Tumblr - http://hottrampinthecity.tumblr.com