A$AP Rocky- Long.Live.A$AP
Record Label: Polo Grounds Music and RCA Records
Release Date: January 15, 2013
“Always Strive And Prosper” is one of the many meanings behind Rakim Mayers moniker ” A$AP Rocky”. After his mix tape titled LiveLoveA$AP was released in 2011 to critical acclaim and a record deal with Sony, A$AP proved to the word he could live up to his own acronym. Despite his success in 2011, the following year A$AP was arrested for assaulting two men at a clothing store in New York, who (allegedly) had filmed A$AP doing illegal drugs. This incident hampered the steady flow of success A$AP had garnered for himself and delayed the release of his debut album LongLiveA$AP. “Assassinate Snitches And Police” is another known meaning of the A$AP moniker and ironically enough the acronym once again was able to characterize a moment of Mayer’s life, because fortunately for fans of hip hop Mayers had the assault charges dropped. Having the charges dropped, A$AP finally released his debut album LongLiveA$AP on January 15, 2013. However, is this the album that will have hip-hop fans saying long live A$AP?
The album begins with the title track “LongLiveA$AP”. The beat is initially awkward and off putting, but as the song progresses A$AP manages to compliment the beat with consistent flow full of lyrics about his difficult past and promising future. He then brings you to the hauntingly atmospheric hook where he sings, almost at a whisper, “Who said you can’t live forever lied.” It’s at this point you realize he was creating this intentional disparity to form a purposeful contrast between the chorus and verse, essentially highlighting the hook. The next track is “Goldie”, which was an interesting choice for a single, as the chorus is among some of the weaker ones on LongLiveA$AP. “Goldie” is a typical hip-hop track and definitely plays it safe. The lyrics flow to the typical rap artist themes of “I’m so famous”, “I’m making money”, “the girls love me” that plagues most hip hop songs. However, it is A$AP’s excellent delivery of these lines in the verses that enables the song to separate itself from the rest. Not to mention some of the lines are genuinely clever such as Remind me of your favorite jeans, cause they naked cause you famous, making a clever allusion to the Naked and Famous clothing company. While “LongLiveA$AP” and “Goldie” are solid enough tracks, A$AP doesn’t fully hit his stride until later in the album.
The next two tracks on the album “PMW (All I Really Need)” and “LVL” are two great tracks on LongLiveA$AP. The former has an excellent guest appearance from Schoolboy Q who absolutely nails his delivery, while throwing in a line that references his own track “Hands On the Wheel”, which had A$AP Rocky in the guest position. The latter “LVL” has one of the more engaging beats on the album done by producer Clams Casino, with A$AP perfectly adjusting his vocals to match the atmosphere Clams Casino provides.The two track winning streak is interrupted by “Hell” featuring Santigold as she does what sounds like a weak M.I.A. impersonation (without the accent), sandwiched by weak verses from A$AP. “Pain” featuring OverDoz isn’t any better, as it may be the dullest track on LongLiveA$AP. The chorus sounds as if Ben Stein is reprising his role as the professor from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" because the delivery of the hook Lights Camera Action is that monotonous. Thankfully, the album is quick to recover from these two missteps.
A$AP saves his best for the second half of LongLiveA$AP which starts with Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar all featured on the track “Fucking Problems". It is the paradigm of a fun hip-hop song, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s clear how much fun A$AP, Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar had recording this song, and you’ll have just as much fun listening to it. The next track featuring Skrillex called “Wild For The Night” is a definite standout off LongLiveA$AP. This song could very well be the next single off the album, so long as they trim out the forty second introduction. Skrillex compliments A$AP’s style well, and the beat definitely gets the adrenaline pumping. “Train” is an epic track featuring a plethora of up and coming rappers such as Action Bronson, Yelawolf, and Joey Bada$$ just to name a few. The fact that “Train” remains engaging for its six minute runtime is a testament to how impressive the track is. What is even more impressive is every artist manages to shine on this song, especially Kendrick Lamar. “Fashion Killa” is another standout with its space like atmosphere and elegant outro. “Fashion Killa” rivals “Wild For The Night” and “LVL” for the best beat on the album.
The album closes with “Phoenix” and “Suddenly.” “Phoenix” shines brighter than “Suddenly” and may leave listeners scratching their heads in puzzlement as to why A$AP chose to close the album with “Suddenly” as opposed to the seemingly more album closer friendly track “Phoenix.” However, this just reinforces that A$AP just does what he wants to do, which for the most part pays off. A$AP may stand for "Always Strive And Prosper," and "Assassinate Snitches And Police", but it also stands for “Acronym Symbolizing Any Purpose". A$AP as a moniker is perfectly adaptable to A$AP Rocky’s music, lifestyle, and attitude of doing whatever he wants, which thankfully for hip-hop fans is making music. While this isn’t the album that will cement A$AP Rocky as a hip-hop icon, it is a fine step in the right direction. Maybe by his sophomore album fans will be saying long live A$AP.