A$AP Rocky can prove that he can still innovate and assemble larger-than-life rap anthems despite signing to a major label.
8.8 / 10
When A$AP Rocky came to the rap scene in 2011 mixing Houston chopped and screwed, east-coast hip-hop and the burgeoning genre of “cloud rap”; needless to say I was very skeptical on how his sound in addition to his seemingly simple raps about “Purple Swag” would work out on a full album. It only took a couple listens til LiveLoveA$AP devoured my listening time and became one of my favorite rap albums of that year.
That pretty motherfucker’s second full-length release LONG.LIVE.A$AP still keeps a lot of the same style that LiveLoveA$AP invented, but it has more mainstream appeal via singles like “Fuckin’ Problems” (the least radio-friendly song that ever played on the radio) and “Goldie”. They bring some pep to the druggy haze of the rest of the album. The title track picks up where the previous release left off with a head-swaying and panicked beat which has a slow calm chorus with Rocky singing in his best falsetto.
This time around A$AP enlisted a veritable hip-hop militia to attack this album, including the ambitious relay race of a song “1 Train” featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T., all who just slay their verses on the track. The producer list is just as ambitious including Hit-Boy, Clams Casino, Skrillex, Friendzone, Danger Mouse, Noah “40” Shebib, Birdy Nam Nam, and C. Papi (who is probably Drake). A$AP Rocky also produces under the name “Lord Flacko” and keeps the status quo on the original sound on LiveLoveA$AP with the minimalistic slow burn of “Suddenly” and the floaty and pretty “Fashion Killa”. Time will only tell if A$AP Rocky’s production work will work on a full mixtape with the The Beauty and The Beast: The Slowed Down Sessions (Part 1), which was due last summer.
A$AP Rocky approaches the album like a game of twister. He will have his right hand on blue with “LVL” which a throbbing cloud rap jam via ASAP Rocky solo on the mic and Clams Casino on production. He has his left foot on yellow with fast-paced sing-a-long of “Fuckin’ Problems” with his richer affiliates Drake and 2 Chainz and a club-friendly beat by Noah “40” Shebib. He’s got his left hand on green with “Goldie” with ASAP Rocky victoriously rapping about the explosion of wealth and success he has accrued over the last few years. Lastly, he has his right foot on red, with the aggressive too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen-defying track “1 Train”.
A$AP Mob’s absence on most the album might be a sign that Rocky knows that he is by far the best member and is stepping up the rap major leagues while the rest of the mob are still struggling with releases like the underwhelming Lords Never Worry (I did enjoy A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord though). The whole world of rap is A$AP Rocky’s oyster as he picks and chooses pieces of rap history like he is mixing sodas on one of those new-fangled touch screen Coke machines. After a myriad of listens, I can indeed say with confidence, long live A$AP Rocky.