Review: A$AP Rocky impresses with debut, “LiveLongA$AP”

Ryan Morris

Editor’s note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

A$AP Rocky, ringleader and most coherent musician out of Harlem, NY’s rising rap music collective A$AP Mob – in which every member’s stage name very adorably has the moniker ‘A$AP’ in front of it – released his highly anticipated debut album, “LongLiveA$AP”, on Jan. 15.

Coming off of the release of his acclaimed debut mixtape, “LiveLoveA$AP”, in late 2011, Rocky has been subject to much praise and scrutiny, being hailed for his seamless mixture of musical styles found in geographically different locations, but criticized for his lack of lyrical substance.

After all, Rocky’s legal name, Rakim Myers, is derived from possibly the most lyrical rapper of all time, so he has quite the standard to live up to.

Rocky popularized and perfected his style of cloud rap several years ago, but nobody could have guessed that his style would have perfectly aligned with the mainstream bass-heavy production style that controls the radio of today.

This album could have gone terribly wrong production-wise, with Rocky choosing more up-tempo instrumentals to rap over, but he, along with his peers – i.e. Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean – avoided the pressure of typical mainstream appeal on his debut album and stayed in his comfort zone.

On the first single from the album, “Goldie”, Rocky knowingly speaks on ignorant subject matters such as fashion, excess, and critics. Fans of Master P’s now-defunct 90’s record label, No Limit, will get the reference; “I’m so ’bout it ’bout it I might roll up in a tank.”

“LongLiveA$AP” features more elaborate collaborations, especially on the posse cut “1 Train”, with the beat being supplied by the go-to-as-of-late producer Hit-Boy and featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, and Big K.R.I.T., and “Hell” featuring Santigold.

“1 Train” could possibly be the best posse track since Kanye West’s “Clique” in 2012, with every featured performer fitting perfectly over the beat. The Santigold collaboration is a bit strange, but it works. It is obscure enough to appease the hipsters, yet commercial enough to please the teenie-boppers.

One thing that comes off as odd is the exclusion of the involvement of every member of the A$AP Mob, with the exception of A$AP Ferg on “Ghetto Symphony”, which is a bonus track and adds nothing to the artistic merit of the album.

The motion to not include any members of the A$AP Mob on “LongLiveA$AP” was possibly the best move that Rocky made overall, seeing as the group’s Sept. 2012 debut collaborative effort, “Lord$ Never Worry”, was a colossally disastrous output.

While Rocky is not the most lyrically dense MC in the game, he does know how to start and finish an album strongly.

Rating: Three and a half out of four stars.

Story: WILL GREENE, A&E Reporter