Thursday, 31 January 2013

A$AP Rocky- Long. Live. A$AP.

Artist: A$AP Rocky
Album: Long. Live. A$AP.
Release Date: 11/1/2013

A$AP still thrives too much of mundanity to be considered a true Hip Hop star

Ever since his rise to acclaimed assertion via his 2011 mixtape “LiveLoveA$AP”, A$AP Rocky has been the most prevalent catalyst for the argument that lyrics in Hip Hop aren’t anywhere near as important as they once were. There’s proof via the rise in popularity of Trap music too that the whole Hip Hop genre revolves much more around sound and bass than rhyme schemes now. There are not many people, genuine and casual Hip Hop fans alike (or indeed, not Hip Hop fans at all) who would dispute that A$AP Rocky is a mediocre rapper, but in the developing throes of what will surely become his empire, it hardly matters. Ultimately, your enjoyment of A$AP Rocky depends on your willingness to adapt with the times musically.

“Long. Live. A$AP”, his debut full- length proper, sees Rocky branch out production wise (the mixtape was single- handedly produced by rising sonic voyager Clams Casino) and that is in many cases, the strongest thing that this album has going for it.

The first noticeable thing is the increasing of variety, but also on a lyrical level Rocky has stepped up his game somewhat. There are flashes of genuine brilliance here concerning other things than his banal trademark quips about money, women and drugs. On the eerie, distant opening title track he raps “Strangers make me nervous/ who’s that peeping through my window with a pistol on my curtains?”. On “Goldie” a beautifully twinkling and atmospheric beat rattles throughout, whilst lyrically the song is half a defiant middle finger to the haters (“Niggas talking shit until they get lockjaw”) and half about how much money he’s got (“Call me Billy Gates I got a crib in every State”) and it’s rather enchanting.

Production wise the beat on the otherwise mundane “PMW (All that I need)” is gorgeous, and Clams Casino returns to the fold on “LVL” providing a hazy, reflective and glitchy fade- out soundscape.

But it’s not all as pretty, and rather expectedly, Rocky sounds unimaginative and lethargic more than he does seriously talented. The production on “Hell” is like a turned down glacial Crystal Castles slow burner and is painfully boring, Santigold providing a passionless hook in the chorus. Skrillex’s whooping production on “Wild for the Night” is obnoxious.

There are lyrical moments on here that if they don’t have you shouting “ARE YOU ACTUALLY SERIOUS?!” at the stereo then you must be one of A$AP’s crew. One such ridiculous specimen is “Fucking Problems.” “I love bear bitches that’s my fucking problem, yeah I like to fuck I got a fucking problem” goes the hook. Even more peevishly A$AP drops the line “They say money make a nigga act nigga- ish, but at least money make a nigga nigga rich.” If it’s meant to be a joke then it simply isn’t funny. In the same vein, the hook on “Fashion Killa” protrudes thusly: “She a fashion killa, and I’m a trendy nigga,” followed on by that most childish of opening gambits, “Rockin’, rollin’, swaggin’ to the max.” Sorry, WHAT?!

What’s most alienating about A$AP Rocky is that, even if he isn’t a particularly potent MC, tracks like the suicidal “Phoenix” and even the tortoise- paced closer “Suddenly” have serious defensive morals that are worth promoting. The production is, at times, absolutely stellar, and even A$AP’s flow is sharper and more appealing than the monotony of previous projects. However any real talent is often substituted for juvenile fooling and an arm stretched for the mainstream. It’s still early days in A$AP’s career, despite the lightning fast rise to fame, but the trajectory needs to change if he is order to prove himself to anything other than the casual Hip Hop listener.

Key Tracks: Phoenix, Goldie, LVL

For fans of: Lil Wayne, Drake, Kendrick Lamar


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