A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP
Released: January 11, 2013
Producer: 40, Amanda Ghost, ASAP Rocky, ASAP Ty Beats, Steven “ASAP Yams” Rodriguez (exec.), Birdy Nam Nam, Bryan Leach (co-exec.), C. Papi, Chace Johnson, Clams Casino, Danger Mouse, Emile Haynie, Finatik & Zac, Frank Romano, Friendzone, Geno Sims, Hector Delgado, Hit-Boy, Jim Jonsin, Joey Fatts, Jonathan “MP” Williams, LORD FLACKO, Nikhil Seetharam, Rico Love, Skrillex, Soufien3000, T-Minus, V Don, Prynce The Hitmaker
Genre: Rap, Hip Hop
01 Long Live a$AP
03 PMW (All I Really Need) [feat. Schoolboy Q]
05 Hell (feat. Santigold)
06 Pain (feat. Overdoz)
07 F**kin’ Problems (feat. Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar)
08 Wild For the Night (feat. Skrillex & Birdy Nam Nam)
09 1Train (feat. Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson & Big K.R.I.T.)
10 Fashion Killa
In 2011, the then 22-year-old Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky, landed a $3 million deal with RCA because of all the reputation he had back when he released his widely acclaimed mixtape Live.Love.A$AP. But, throughout 2012, his announced debut LONG.LIVE.A$AP failed to be released. It was slated for July 4th, then September 11th, October 31, and eventually, sometime in December. It looked as though the deal with RCA had failed miserably and they were just trying to quietly hush the skeptics and bury their mistakes under the carpet.
But on January 11, this year, I realized how wrong I was. LONG.LIVE.A$AP delivers on and even exceeds the promise of LiveLoveA$AP. Just like his 2011 mixtape, his debut is a masterpiece of its craft and curation, something attributed to his never ending armada of producers and beatmakers, along with Rocky’s immaculate taste and his ability to smartly upgrade and evolve his sound. A small portion of the album still remains close to the sounds of LiveLoveA$AP, while the rest of the album is mixture of collaborations, solos, and verses that all feel like a smart and natural evolution of his 2012 hit single “Goldie”. Even amongst some of the rap industry’s heavyweights, like Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz and Drake, Rocky is able to stand on his own two feet and behave like one of the veterans. Never seeking the spotlight, this French-braid gold-teeth kid, often criticized for his lack of depth, A$AP Rocky keeps delivering in the face of skepticism.
Even his most dummed down ideas succeed on LONG.LIVE.A$AP. His collaboration with Skrillex and Birdy Nam Nam on “Wild for the Night” has your ears bombed with stadium-wide party lasers and and a raggae-driven organ beat that has you holding your gut, like you were on the receiving end of a FATALITY on Mortal Kombat game. It almost feels impossible for nearly anyone to rap over a beat like that but Rocky makes it sound effortless. Same goes for Santigold‘s appearance on “Hell”, one of the two beats by, long-time collaborator and friend with Rocky, Clams Casino; and it seems similarly “easy breezy”.
A$AP Rocky‘s greatest gift is his ability to naturally blend in to any beat and rhythm, and feel right at home. Whether he and Schoolboy Q are bouncing along the cascade of chopped and screwed beats in the T-Minus-produced “PMW (All I Really Need)” or doing what the de facto leader of Wu-Tang Clan RZA does best and dodge and carefully place his rhymes across a collision of veteran rappers like Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T.. He has this incredible ability to mold himself into whatever beat is thrown at him. Even the Odd Future like beat of “Joyde” (in the Deluxe Edition) that comes in total antithesis to “Wild for the Night”. Nothing can come as close as that “like three million dollars” feeling. I wish I could call is something else, but, whatever feeling the word SWAG makes you feel, this man has a lot of it.
The last track of the album, “Suddenly”, bears a co-producing credit from “Lord Flacko,” aka Rocky himself. Quite an eclectic production, but so is his taste. The song feels like a very big intro. Starting with a drumless vocal sample that seems to be submerged under layers and layers of muffled barriers, you can’t expect what will happen. When the beat finally hits, it stays for only a few moments before disappearing again leaving the listener lingering for more. Rocky is a master of tension: as the beat progresses with the listener still hooked he starts rapping about some of the most emotional and personal problems in his life: “Everybody have roaches, but our roaches ain’t respect us,” he cracks, flashing a previously unseen storytelling flair: “We had cookouts and dirt bikes and dice games and fist fights/ And fish fries and shootouts like one Sig with two rounds/ In one clip, left two down, that’s four kids/ But one lived, left three dead but one split/ That one missed, that one snitched.” The song is a forceful reminder of his birthplace and heritage.
This album has been a big journey in A$AP Rocky‘s New York story. And the moral: there is no true New York story. Every rapper has had an affiliation or influence from something else. Whether it’s Mobb Deep‘s timeless verses or 1990s trappings and beats. Rocky comes from special and long line of Harlem born-and-raised rappers, singers and hip hop artists like Tupac Shakur, Cam’ron, Lil Mama, Kelis and Azealia Banks, whose aim has always been more ambitious and flashy, and have always wanted to cross over to uncharted and new areas. Rocky tucks steely edges behind that goofy smile. He has this unerring instinct for balancing pop smarts and street edge and a similar disregard for that New York “we know how to do it right” way. He’s also consistently dismissed as a lightweight. It’s true, Rocky may not be the answer to New York rap’s savior complex. But he is undeniably a hit-maker and a major new rap star for a city that sorely needs one. And with LongLiveA$AP, he’s beaten expectations twice.