A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.ASAP
Record Label: RCA / Polo Grounds / A$AP Worldwide
Release Date: January 15th, 2013
New York rapper A$AP Rocky is a rapper I’ve been hearing about for awhile, but I never got into hip-hop until the latter half of 2012, so I’m aware I’m a bit late on the bandwagon, you could say. Regardless, I have seen ads for Rocky’s new video for the second single on his label debut record Long.Live.ASAP “F**kin’ Problems,” which features Drake, 2 Chainz, and the wonderful Kendrick Lamar, whom I’ve been buzzing about for awhile, as a lot of critics have. That song in particular is a great representation of Rocky’s flow, despite the lyrics being very cliché. While the lyrics rather clichéd and bland, the track is catchy and the beat is very solid, so I can imagine it’ll do rather successfully on the billboard charts. That’s how I’d describe a lot of the songs on this record, however – cliché lyrics with very interesting and engaging beats. At times, A$AP Rocky’s lyrics aren’t half bad, and actually do have dark imagery as well as clever wordplay, but to call him a new William Shakespeare is pushing it. I mentioned Kendrick Lamar a bit ago, and while he’s on a few songs, his label debut Good Kid M.A.A.D City is a record I praised highly because of its lyrics. The beats and overall instrumentation were also very solid, but with that record, the lyrics really were something to marvel at. Lamar’s lyrics told a story about a slightly fictional representation of himself, and it was a very interesting and compelling story that actually had a very relevant plot and kept me very entertained and intrigued in fact. This record, on the other hand, doesn’t have an overall theme to it, but rather, many themes, but the lyrics are rather sub-par. Are they terrible? No, there are a few moments where the lyrics are rather entertaining and tongue-in-cheek. If anything, there is a lot of humor to Rocky’s lyrics, but I will admit they do go into the clichéd territory. Aside from that, however, the overall beats and instrumentation is very solid here. He produced the record himself, with some help from his friends, but it sounds superb; the beats are certainly something to marvel at here as well. If there is one thing I can say after listening to this record a few times, it’s that A$AP Rocky is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the hip-hop community.
The record begins, coincidentally, with the title track “Long Live A$AP,” and this is the first chance for the listeners, like myself, to see what Rocky is really made of, and you know what? It delivers quite well. The beat is very unique, and his flow is really tight. He actually sings briefly in the chorus, and it’s not that bad. It’s really eerie, and really adds to the song. In fact, the first few songs are very solid. Next track “Goldie” is the first single from the record, and I didn’t hear this song until I bought the album, but wow, this song is great. It’s one of the strongest tracks on the record, lyrically and musically. Next track, however, “PMV (All I Really Need)” is a very strong track musically, but lyrically, it’s cliché-ridden, and it doesn’t do much for me, in terms of the lyrics. It does feature Schoolboy Q, whom I’m rather familiar with after being featured on the Childish Gambino mixtape Royalty in 2012, and he’s actually great on the track. That leads me to a problem I have with the record, though; the middle of the record has a LOT of guest spots on it, and it’s insanely. Going back to Kendrick Lamar’s last record, it only features a few guest rappers on it, and they weren’t obnoxious or overused, but on this record, I feel like Rocky is trying to say “I have a lot of friends, so here they are.” About half the record has guest spots on it, and since I’m just getting into Rocky, that seems a bit too much for me. Regardless, the record is enjoyable, and I’m not saying that all the guestspots are bad artists, or anything like that, because they’re not. But it just seems like it’s way too much for me.
Going back to the record, though, tracks like “Hell” and “Pain” are two tracks that are very slow and very intelligent tracks, actually. Lyrically, these are some of my favorite tracks, too. The guest spots on both tracks are great, too; the former features singer Santigold, and the latter features rapper Overdoz. I’ve never heard of him, but he actually is pretty good. Next track “F**kin’ Problems” is the track that I spoke about in the beginning in the review; that song is definitely single-worthy, and that’s the second single, as I mentioned. It features Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar. I don’t really care for Drake or 2 Chainz, but Kendrick does very well on this track. It doesn’t really do much for me, because lyrically, it’s very cliché, but it’ll do well, I’m sure. The same goes for next track “Wild for the Night.” This song features Skrillex, actually, but I’m not sure how that works, really. Oh well, but it’s a very catchy track, nonetheless. After that, comes the longest track on the record “1Train,” which features a whole mess of rappers, including Kendrick Lamar, actually. This track is about 6 minutes, but despite featuring six other rappers, it’s quite enjoyable. The next three tracks after this are going back to just featuring Rocky, so that’s a good sign. How do they hold up? They’re okay tracks, really. They really don’t do anything for me, but they close out the album nicely, and it makes me want to listen to it again and again, which is a perfect sign. The record as a whole is actually quite enjoyable, but the only things that really keep me from loving this record are the lyrics for the most part, and the crazy amount of guest spots. It’s cool that Rocky featured a lot of people, but I wish he would’ve only kept it to a few tracks, not the whole record. Either way, I have a feeling A$AP Rocky is going to blow up in the next year or so, and if he doesn’t, I’ll be darned.