A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP

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1. Is anyone else bothered that the title has periods separating the words, whereas his previous release didn’t, and otherwise everything else lines up from cover to the “L___L___A$AP” of the title? 

2. Robert Christgau, who I normally don’t trust for hip-hop, nails this: “Skillfully but never dazzlingly, congenially but never charismatically, with entertainment value added by a screwed-and-chopped alter ego, Rocky raps over the music without saying a damn thing older, meaner, and sharper rappers haven’t said before. Then, bang, three dynamite songs, starting with an attention grabber bearing the asterisks-in-original title and literal message “F**kin’ Problems,” followed by a f**k-you banger from the Skrillex songbook and the terrific virtual-posse “1 Train”: hello goodbye to Kendrick Lamar, Joey Badass, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and Big K.R.I.T. Then, aww, three tracks that could be more obvious by half.” 

3. That being said, I think Christgau being Christgau, puts too much stock in the Skrillex collaboration, which turns to shit as soon as Skrillex shows up and does Skrillex things. I will acknowledge that it’s more experimental than A$AP Rocky is known for, but it’s a failed experiment in my eyes.

4. Because very little of Long.Live.A$AP can be classified as cloud rap (if at all), there’s no hiding behind the beats and A$AP Rocky gets exposed as a rapper with nothing new to say and no new ways of saying it. I’ll admit that he does get in a good line from time to time (ie. “She love my licorice, I let her lick it / They say money make a nigga act nigga-ish / But at least a nigga nigga rich”), but that’s no cause to celebrate when you realize that LiveLoveA$AP had full captivating verses (ie. “Peso,” “Leaf”) and there are some absolutely atrocious lines to be found and it doesn’t end up evening out. Obvious examples: The “Yes I’m the shit. Tell me do it stank” (“Gooldie”) and “Niggas say I’m blessed my bad I forgot to sneeze (AH-CHOO!)” (“Hell”).  

5. “1 Train” is almost as good as the internet-centric-hip-hop-equivalent-of-the-Avengers guest feature list would suggest. Quick power rankings: Kendrick Lamar = Danny the Destroyer > Big K.R.I.T. > A$AP Rocky > Yelawolf > Action Broson = Joey Bada$$.

Kendrick Lamar does the best, thanks to his use of onomatopoeia, “I roll past and I blaze y’all like “DOO DOO!” I hate y’all / When the beef cooked, I ate y’all like “MMM MMM!”” that recalls his “VROOM VROOM” of “Backseat Freestyle” and how, as his verse climaxes, he manipulates his voice to sounding like he’s gasping for air with each line. Meanwhile, Danny Brown drops one of the most outrageous lines in a career built on outrageousness, “Bitch pussy smell like a penguin / Wouldn’t hit that shit with my worst enemy’s penis.” Meanwhile, Big K.R.I.T., in one of the few times in his rapping career, goes as hard as possible, but it’s hard to notice because you have to wade through Discount Ghostface’s and Joey Bada$$’s mediocre verses. Yelawolf’s 2Pac reference is the only thing saving him. 

6. Then there’s other posse cut, “F**kin’ Problems.” While on the surface it may seem like a generic rap track about four rappers and how much they love fucking bad bitches, it’s actually one of the few pro-feminist hip-hop tracks I’ve ever heard. For example, A$AP Rocky only lets his girl “lick it” because he knows she loves licorice, which is very considerate of him. Drake’s got the most pro-feminism lyrics in his verse, seen from the get-go, “Oh, I know you love it when this beat is on / Make you think about all the niggas you been leadin’ on,” which shows that the girl he’s about to get with is a strong, independent woman. As opposed to many other rappers, Drake gives his girls choices, “Then just drop down and get your eagle on / Or we can stare up at the stars and put the Beatles on.” Finally, Kendrick Lamar’s verse is full of good examples. First and foremost, “She eyeing me like a nigga don’t exist / Girl, I know you want this DIHH.” He only knows she wants his “DIHH” because of the way she is eyeing him, not the other way around, and look at his closing couplet, “Halle Berry, hallelujah / Holla back I’ll do ya, beast.” He’ll only fuck her if she holla at him. It’s all about giving the woman the choice. If she don’t holla, he won’t do her. 

7. Speaking of, similar to how Kendrick Lamar’s closing couplet harkens back to “Money Trees” while it’s still fresh on our minds, ScHoolboy Q works in “If you fuck her once you can fuck her twice” from “Hands on the Wheel” – the A$AP collaboration on Habits & Contradictions – into “PMW (All I Really Need).” 

8. Clams Casino, who had given A$AP Rocky three of the better beats on Live Long A$AP hands in “LVL” and “Hell” and both are … shockingly normal, the former propelled almost entirely by a bass throb and the latter a static-soaked nothing. 

9. The title track does the impressive thing of being atmospheric and bangin’ at the same time.

10. “Goldie” has A$AP Rocky doing a flow switch near the end of each verse, and that’s more than you can say about his verses anywhere else on the album.

11. Speaking of, A$AP Rocky and SpaceGhostPurrp had a falling out after A$AP Rocky used the latter’s line in the hook for “Goldie” (the “And them college girls write a nigga name on they toes” bit, which didn’t really make sense, so SGP should’ve just let him have it, but SGP gets mad really easily), so closer “Suddenly” seems to purposefully sound like SGP’s “Osiris of the East” to really add insult to injury.

12. Even if you found A$AP Rocky’s debut album to be a disappointment, you can at least rejoice in the fact that Kendrick Lamar continued his home run streak into the new year.

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One response to “A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP

  1. Pingback: The 10 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2013 | Free City Sounds·

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