For years I wrote off anything attached to the name A$AP Rocky, assuming he produced music on the same level as the Meek Mills and 2 Chainz’s of rap. However, his recent album Long.Live.A$AP quells all of my skepticism and distrust. A$AP Rocky’s album is close to being on par with Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid m.A.A.d City, but falls short in a few crucial areas. A$AP Rocky, despite showing amazing potential with this record, still cannot seem to abandon his common themes of drugs, guns and women, which permeate almost every song he’s ever released. A$AP shines when he is able to circumvent this habit and rap about significant issues. This dichotomy defines Long.Live.A$AP; half of the tracks (mostly those which feature other artists) are so outstanding that they could be considered the top Hip Hop releases of the year, while the other half are downright amateurish. A closer look at a few of the songs better represents the album’s range.
Arguably the most well known track off of Long.Live.A$AP is “F**kin’ Problems” by A$AP, 2 Chainz, Drake and Kendrick Lamar. As 2 Chainz is only useful when used as comic relief in absurd songs, I applaud his feature on this song. The premise is downright ludicrous, and there’s nobody better to perpetuate its ridiculousness than 2 Chaniz. Furthermore, he is deservedly only allowed a few words in the hook, which is arguably too many already. Beyond this, the song allows A$AP, Drake and Kendrick to boast their male dominance and establish themselves, essentially, as alpha males. However, they do so in a skilled and creative way, and it pays off. “F**kin’ Problems” is a catchy, well-versed song that, while most likely will not live longer than a few months, is more than enjoyable for the time being.
After skipping the next track, we arrive at the album’s masterpiece. “1Train,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T. is without a doubt one of the best Hip Hop singles in the past year. This song is easily comparable to “So Appalled” off My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; both tracks feature a deep and hypnotic beat (Hit Boy keeps his streak going) and a series of superb verses from featured rappers. A$AP takes it a step further and eradicates all choruses from the song; these 7 rappers follow one another without any pause, spitting unbelievably powerful lyrics. This is unsurprising, as Kendrick, Joey and KRIT are considered the three best young rappers in the game at the moment, and bringing them together with such lyrical freedom could only have produced amazing results. Joey, at age 18, is grappling with the prospect of working with artists like Jay-Z, and staying connected to his networks and life at home. He states, “And I’m thinking about signing to the Roc/But my ni**as on the block still assigned to the rocks.” Anchoring this impressive team of MC’s, Big K.R.I.T. reflects on his process of becoming a true artist, powerfully remembering issues from earlier in his life. He recalls, “All I had was rap when all they had was wack/All I wanted was love, all they had was dap.” In my opinion, this is an utterly brilliant line. Considering his initial stages as a rapper, he maintains that he was making real rap music while his competitors were not; he was looking for the confirmation and was not receiving enough of it.
Conversely, the album also boasts songs such as “PMW (All I Really Need).” Standing for pussy money weed, this song offers nothing into A$AP’s abilities as a writer or rapper. The other songs fall under the same category, and are too congested with sounds of gun shots and harsh sexual references to be considered impressive music. Unfortunately, Schoolboy Q’s features appear on these types of songs, but his verses are for the most part much better. There are also a couple songs such as “Fashion Killa,” “LVL” and “I Come Apart ft. Florence Welch” that, while not on the same level as “1Train” are nonetheless excellent. All in all, A$AP is showing a ton of promise with this album, especially considering the unprecedented level of talent he was able to recruit in the form of his featuring artists. However, if he wants to really make a name for himself in the Hip Hop world, he needs to relinquish his juvenile obsession with rapping about girls, guns and drugs. If Long.Live.A$AP is any indication, he is on the right track.