A$AP Rocky, ‘Long.Live.A$AP’ – Album Review
After numerous delays and, unfortunately, the album leaking onto the Internet, A$AP Rocky‘s major label debut, ‘Long.Live.A$AP,’ is finally here. On the LP, the Harlem native invites listeners into his world, where it’s simultaneously murky and celebratory.
‘Long.Live.A$AP’ is certainly a sonically diverse rap album to come out of New York. The 12-track collection (16 if you cop the deluxe version) boasts a variety of musical styles like the dubstep-reggae mash-up ‘Wild for the Night,’ the trip-hop-sounding ‘Long Live A$AP,’ the alt-rap of ‘Phoenix’ and the rap-pop ballad ‘I Came Apart.’ These songs show that Rocky is not afraid to take creative chances with his music — for better or for worse.
Multiple producers like Hit-Boy, Clams Casino, Amsterdam and T-Minus, among others, give Rocky some head-nodding, atmospheric production on the effort. Guests are abundant but effective here. The stellar posse track ‘1 Train,’ featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey BadA$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T., is a major standout on the album, as well as ‘F—in’ Problems, featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar.
Overall, ‘Long.Live.A$AP’ is the first great rap album of 2013, and A$AP Rocky is one of the most charismatic figures in hip-hop at the moment.
Listen to ‘Long.Live.A$AP’ album in its entirety here.
1. ‘Long Live A$AP’
The album opener is a trip-hop-sounding tune featuring gun blasts, lightning, cash registers ringing and A$AP Rocky’s dark themes. “My Santa Claus was missing, catch you slippin’ then it’s Christmas / Motherf— a wish list, my ghetto was my ambition,” he raps. [Watch Video]
Fans should be familiar with this track. Hit-Boy’s production on here is stellar as the Harlem rapper gives a proper introduction to his swag and a middle finger to his haters.
3. ‘PMW (All I Really Need)’ Feat. Schoolboy Q
Produced by T-Minus, the song is a street anthem to the finer things in life (at least to Rocky) — that’s p—-, money and weed. Black Hippy member Schoolboy Q comes through with an impressive guest verse. This head-nodding banger is an early standout on the album.
On this down-tempo song, the self-proclaimed pistol-popper boasts about ushering a new kind of rap over chopped-and-screwed vocals and stuttering synths provided by producer Clams Casino. “It’s a movie, n—- / With a new cast / Get the news flash / The truth is back,” Rocky spits.
5. ‘Hell’ Feat. Santigold
On another Clams Casino-blessed track, Rocky weaves a lyrical tale of how he went from ashy to classy. “We used to be in rugged boots / Now it’s all tailored suits,” he raps.
6. ‘Pain’ Feat. OverDoz
Not the most thrilling song on the album. The wafting synths and the echo-filled beat doesn’t appeal to our ears. “The future will be televised / Haters is getting genocide,” raps Rocky as he boasts about how trill he is along with his A$AP Mob crew.
7. ‘F—in’ Problems’ Feat. Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar
The first of two great collaborations on the album. The gold-selling song, featuring Flacko, Drizzy and K. Dot, is the LP’s first big hit. Everyone spits vapid rhymes about groupies and haters on here but Drake sounds invigorated and has the best verse between Rocky and Lamar.
8. ‘Wild for the Night’
Rocky teams up with his good friend EDM producer Skrillex for this energetic dubstep and reggae-tinged song that features gun blasts and siren riffs. It sounds a little out of place on this album, but props to Flacko for trying something that’s sonically different from the rest of the album. [Listen Here]
9. ’1 Train’
Arguably, this is one of the best posse tracks in recent memory. Rocky & Co. flip bravado wordplay over an enthralling ’90s-era hip-hop beat by Hit-Boy. Joey BadA$$ probably has the best verse on here, spitting, “Just got back to the block from a 6 o’clock with Jigga / And I’m thinking ’bout signing to the Roc / But my n—-s on the block is still signed to them rocks.” After repeat listens, this song never loses it’s luster. Bravo.
10. ‘Fashion Killa’
Co-produced by Lord Flacko himself, he raps fondly and metaphorically about a chick who loves to wear designers labels. “She’s a fashion killa / I’m a trendy n—-,” Rocky raps repeatedly on the chorus. Unfortunately, the Harlem rapper warbles at the end, which nearly ruins the song.
11. ‘Phoenix’ (Prod. by Danger Mouse)
Produced by Danger Mouse, this is a very interesting track with its moody production and Rocky’s self-reflective rhymes about his suicidal thoughts. He name-checks Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain during his sullen rhymes about life and death but vows to not let the depression take over his state of mind.
Rocky ends the album on an introspective note about his rise from a street hustler to a sought-after rap superstar. In the first verse, he recalls his struggles growing up in Harlem and early hip-hop memories. On the second verse, he spits rapid-fire rhymes about his hectic life in the rap game. “I remember way back when / A motherf—er used to have to borrow cash from my friends’ friends / Just to put a snack up in the fridge,” he raps. “Now the kids all look up to me / Them bitches wanna f— with me / My idols say what’s up to me, from ugly to comfortably.”
Rocky goes aggro on this horror-core track that sounds like it was recorded in a battlefield. And maybe that’s the point he’s trying to convey — the streets of Harlem are a battlefield where a few soldiers survive and others become KIA.
14. ‘Ghetto Symphony’ Feat. Gunplay & A$AP Ferg
A$AP Ferg is the only A$AP mob member who makes a guest appearance on the album and, unfortunately, it’s not a memorable one. Over climatic orchestral strings, Rocky, Ferg and Gunplay bluster throughout the song with little effect.
Rocky takes shots at his rivals on this melodic bass-heavy song produced by Amsterdam. There are many speculations at who he’s aiming his vitriol at but we don’t care. It’s a track we’d skip.
16. ‘I Come Apart’ Feat. Florence Welch
This song is quite different from the atmospheric production that encompasses the LP. Produced by Emile Haynie and Amanda Ghost, this is Rocky’s foray into pop-rap. On it, he raps about love and heartbreak while Florence yodels the chorus at ear-piecing levels. We don’t think Rocky’s fan base will embrace this musically-daring song wholeheartedly, but at least he gave it try.