One can’t really praise nor criticize Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky without sounding redundant from everyone else. I wasn’t the biggest fan of his when his first mixtape Live.Love.A$AP when it came out a couple of years ago – mainly because I wasn’t a fan of the cloud rap type of production. But in the time it took for his long awaited (and delayed) debut album to come to fruition, the cloud rap style has grown on me a little bit. So to my surprise, Rocky was able to mix in modern to his typical hazzy flow to deliver a rather consistent and engaging listen with Long.Live.A$AP.
The album opens up with it’s namesake, a dark boom-bap beat with some of Rocky’s best lyrical moments on the album. Even his off falsetto singing during the chorus fits, and is rather enjoyable. “Goldie” is probably the most fun you will find on the album, with Rocky’s almost trademarked chopped and screwed voice and incredibly catchy delivery. “Lvl” had that really slow beat to it that harkened back to the best moments on his first mixtape – though the hook (if you would call it that) is something to be desired.
A$AP Rocky isn’t the best lyricist in the game (I think he knows that), but his friends that accompany him on this album more than make up for it. “Fuckin’ Problems” has an awfully catchy hook thanks to 2 Chainz, and some decent verses from Kendrick Lamar and Drake, while Rocky and Schoolboy Q (one of the most underrated rappers out there in my opinion) put it down on “PMW.” And then there’s “1Train,” one of the best group tracks to come out in the past couple of years. Action Bronson, Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf, and Danny Brown KILL IT on this track – especially Brown. The amount of promise all the rappers featured on “1Train” have is staggering, and putting all of them onto one song is a feat in on itself. This is a track people will be going to by years end.
Besides everything I liked on Long.Live.ASAP., it’s not without a couple of gripes. I could do without “Hell (feat. Santigold).” The song is rather flat, and Santigolds contribution sounds really off putting – someone like M.I.A. could’ve given that hook the attitude that it needed. And I have no problems with Skrillex or his production on “Wild For the Night,” but I felt that his work and Rocky’s lyrics and flow were very mismatched. Lastly, I wish there was a lot more production diversity here; the slow, methodical beats that were on his first mixtape is what turned me off from it in the first place.
It’s still plenty early in the year to call Long.Live.A$AP one of the best rap albums of the year, but I’d be shocked if it’s not up there by December. Even though Rocky is still not the best rapper out there, and some of the production doesn’t quite fit in with his rapping style, Long.Live.A$AP is still memorable, and continues laying down what the new school of hip-hop is all about. He’s not telling stories or anything like guest rapper Kendrick Lamar did last year, but also doesn’t try to. What he does do well is make rap music that any fan of the genre can get behind.
Final Grade: A-
Go Download: “1Train”, “Goldie”