“Uhh…yeah….Uhh…yeah:” That’s the distorted voice of A$AP Rocky, slowly vibing to his own music, and presumably feeling the mind-twisting effects of codeine syrup in his bloodstream. And although our friend A$AP might not be able to think clearly at the moment, he does his best to assure us, in his debut studio album LongLiveA$AP, that he is most certainly alive and well.
LongLiveA$AP has all the essential components of a rap album these days; several features from other promising rappers, copious amounts of drugs, money, and women, and a never-ending celebration of another day in the life. A$AP’s mentality is fairly simple: having been “baptized in the gutter,” living a childhood of fatherless (and sometimes homeless) poverty, the Harlem rapper has sufficient motivation to boast his newfound riches in his 24th year on the planet. As he boasts in the opening track with the same title as the album, he “thought he’d probably die in prison,” a mindset prevalent in inner-city communities, where young black men can call themselves a success if they haven’t been incarcerated or murdered by the age of 21.
Enough of the politics, though, A$AP isn’t really about that. He’s more concerned with bragging about his successful lifestyle, regardless of the fact that he continues to practice habits, according to his verses, that could very well put him behind bars. This gun-slinging former drug dealer has a remarkable knack for making his self-proclaimed immortality as nonchalant as humanly possible. Almost as if his accumulated riches and women up to this point in his life have left him perfectly content with dying tomorrow.
LongLiveA$AP doesn’t exactly surpass what we’ve come to expect from A$AP and the mob. He’s never been known to confine himself to a New York Style, and continues to prove his versatile sound. There are a handful of fantastic tracks, including the album’s first single “Goldie,” what Rocky describes as a “jiggy” song that blends California carelessness with southern syrup and bit of New York nasty. The album’s ninth track, “1 Train,” is its heartiest track, featuring some quality verses from Kendrick Lamar, Joey BadA$$, Big K.R.I.T., and Danny Brown. Yelawolf and Action Bronson also stop by the studio to add their side dishes to the braggadocios potluck. The track is so heavy with the features that it doesn’t really need a hook, becoming a cipher of quite a variety of rappers, all of which stay true to their own style.
“Fuckin’ Problems” has all the characteristics of a radio single, complete with a 2 Chainz hook, a fairly typical verse from Drake, and Kendrick verse to seal the deal, or as he puts it, “yeah hoe, this the finale, my pep talk turn in to a pep rally.” “PMW (All I Really Need)” features the witty syncopation of Schoolboy Q, interrupting yet another distorted hook with a UGK-esque melody floating in the background. We get some surprises with a Santigold hook on “Hell,” and Skrillex brings his unmistakable scratching sounds to “Wild for the Night” for a party anthem.
As a whole, the album relies heavily on its features. “Phoenix” is the only memorable solo effort from Rocky, as the rest of the tracks dissolve into a forgettable vibe, like vague memories from a night filled with codeine; we reach a point where it’s hard to tell one “uhh…yeah..” song from another. A$AP Rocky will never be known as a solo artist, forever associated with the A$AP Mob and the rest of his rapper friends. As always, his future success will depend on who he chooses as his peers. For now, he’s made great selections, calling in other young promising rappers, Kendrick, Schoolboy and Joey BadA$$ for example, to spit witty lines and flows that he isn’t fully capable of producing alone.
Although LongLiveA$AP certainly isn’t the best album to emerge from hip-hop lately, it gives us a couple catchy tracks and shines a light on Rocky’s newfound success. Perhaps A$AP Rocky is a networker of sorts, calling his friends together to celebrate another day in the life with some codeine and a few “uhh…yeah’s.”