A$AP Rocky – At.Long.Last.A$AP

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1. Sometimes, albums aren’t worth the effort of one’s thoughts into paragraph format. If A$AP Rocky can’t be assed to link his beats in any coherent way, why should I?

2. $50 says Joe Fox will be A$AP Rocky’s version of Consequence (you remember, that guy who showed up on half of A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes and Life who disappeared right after?) or Amil (you remember, the gal who showed up on two Jay-Z albums that no one cares about and who disappeared right after?) Dude sings with no range or grasp of melody and no emotion, and the guy shows up for half the album. And the worst part is A$AP Rocky has the money to sample Rod Steward and bring in Miguel, and yet relies on this asshole?

3. It’s becoming clearer and clearer that “Hands on the Wheel” was the beginning of a ill-advised and long-lasting friendship between two sophomoric rappers who think drugs and pussy are the only things worth living for, and everything after would be diminishing returns. (The outro to “Electric Body” is a minute you’re never getting back.)

4. Kanye West’s verse on “Jukebox Joints” must be what his haters hear whenever they think of Kanye West’s proficiency as a rapper. Which is a shame, because he’s normally a lot better than this. Nice horns in the conclusion, though.

5. Nothing happens on “Fine Whine” until M.I.A.’s (whose part just flies by, probably because A$AP Rocky thinks of women as nothing more than objects) and Future’s parts, where the beat finally picks up.

6. Nothing happens on “M’$” until Lil Wayne’s verse.

7. Rod Stewart passing the torch to Miguel in the choruses of “Everyday” is a genuine feel-good moment that I imagine is perfect for summer nights that I hear so much about, and Mark Ronson nicely keeps the beat moving (ie. the drums that come in at 1:13 mark (great idea holding back those drums for as long as he did); the beat switch for the second verse) so nothing gets stale. A$AP Rocky manages to whip up one of his best flows for the first verse (“Rolling through, hitting switches, rolling ditches, blowing kisses / To the bitches, holding biscuits, what’s the business”; “hypnosis overdose on potions / Adjusting to the motions and getting out all my emotions”), but of course he can’t resist his trademark slide into pure stupidity – “And only God can judge me and he don’t like no ugly / I look so fucking good most dykes’ll fuck me, buddy.” The best song on At.Long.Last.A$AP.

8. I’ve never done acid, but the music video of “L$D” – one of this year’s best, and I say that with absolutely certainty, having seen less music videos released this year than I can count with one hand and don’t care enough to see more – captures what I imagine the drug is like: stumbling around downtown Tokyo as the buildings bleed artificial colours; needing people who aren’t there (or they’re there, but they’re not there, not really).

Anyway, the song suggests two things: 1) A$AP Rocky is much better as a singer than he is a rapper (he hits those high notes in a way that’s unexpected and, well, sweet, which isn’t a word that I associate with him), and 2) A$AP Rocky has nothing to say about anything that Chance the Rapper hasn’t said and said better. The lush instrumental tones – which elevates this song to the second best from the unstoppable mediocrity of At.Long.Last.A$AP – can be found on the second half of “Pusha Man” and “Lost.”

The single version continues his misguided attempts at multipartite beats from the album: he suddenly jumps into a verse from “Excuse Me” (because people expect him to rap) and there’s zero effort given to transition in and out of the verse. (And yeah, I know: “Pusha Man” didn’t transition between parts either, but it was still a better song – both paranoid and pretty. This one’s just pretty pretending to be paranoid.)

8. A lot of people (/publications) have talked a lot about A$AP Yams’ death, and how it inspired the album, and … if it weren’t for “Back Home” (whose driving one-note beat makes it one of the best songs on the album and also contains the egregious bit where A$AP Rocky says all the hate he receives makes him “feel worse than a rape victim), you wouldn’t even know A$AP Yams died.

9. Danger Mouse might have been a really great producer in the last decade, but why A$AP Rocky continues to work with him is beyond me. The guitar in “Holy Ghost” is nice (but then, y’know, Joe Fox starts singing), but the skittering drums in “Pharsyde” and “Westside Highway” (one of many 2-minute songs where it sounds like A$AP Rocky just gave up halfway through) ain’t much.

10. As A$AP Rocky moves further and further away from the cloud rap smokescreen that made LiveLoveA$AP great, it becomes clearer and clearer that he was just at the right place at the right time.

C+

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