#10 Album of The Year: A$AP Rocky- Long Live A$AP

Posted: December 29, 2013 by ericbernsen in Album Reviews, Music
Tags: , , ,

Although Long Live A$AP leaked back in 2012, the debut album from A$AP Rocky officially came out in 2013 as the A$AP movement gained notoriety in the hip-hop world. Rocky and the rest of the Mob have perfected the balancing act between creating a sound with heavy Houston influence yet maintaining a New York flair within their lyrics; this contrast was on full display in Rocky’s Live Love A$AP mixtape that has been deemed an underground classic by fans and critics alike.

In Long Live A$AP, A$AP Rocky is able to maintain the aspects of his mixtape that were compelling, and combine them with a more accessible sound that allows Rocky’s charismatic delivery to shine with a wider audience in attendance. Business-wise, this was the smartest move A$AP Rocky could have made and although tracks like hit singles “Fuckin Problems” and “Wild For the Night” don’t exactly fit with the otherwise cohesive and captivating production, their placement on the album did nothing but elevate Rocky’s career and increase his fan base.

“Fuckin Problems” features Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar and in 2013, that lineup is a match made in heaven sales-wise. Even though A$AP Rocky opens up the song, the track doesn’t feel like his own as Drake and his right-hand man producer 40 put the pieces together to create a radio smash with the best ignorant hook of the year. “Wild For The Night” is Rocky’s attempt at an EDM hit with the reggae style yet synth heavy production coming from Skrillex, and although Rocky’s flow suits the beat, the result is rather chaotic.

The other single choices such as “Goldie” and “Fashion Killa” are more desirable records that still resonate universally and have a mass appeal. “Goldie” is a Hit Boy production that was originally meant for Jay Z, but A$AP Rocky’s flow and braggadocio lyrics sound right at home over the high-energy club banger. “Fashion Killa” has Rocky rhyming about what he knows best; high-end fashion. Through his bravado he convincingly glorifies the high-end designer lifestyle, and this is something Rocky lives as not many rappers have embraced the fashion lifestyle (not business aka Kanye) as much as him since fellow Harlem rapper Cam’ron.

Nevertheless, when we delve deeper than the singles on Long Live A$AP, this is where we find the true highlights of the album. Rocky is not the best lyricist in the rap game, but he carries a melodic ambiance in his persona and it sounds best over hazy cloud rap style beats with dark undertones and haunting sample selections. This is perfected on songs such as “Suddenly”, “LVL” and album opener “Long Live A$AP”, which are well-executed extensions of the aura Rocky created on Live Love A$AP. A$AP Rocky, under the producer name Lord Flacko, executive produced the album and he did a good job of using big name producers such as T-Minus and Jim Jonsin in the correct way. Even with a bigger budget this time around, Rocky stayed true to the highly effective working relationships with previous collaborators such as Clams Casino. The biggest and best surprise we got production wise was from Hit Boy’s other beat on the album…the posse cut “1 Train”. Rocky brought together the best young rappers in the game to spit verses on the old-school 90’s underground inspired beat that is reminiscent of Wu Tang’s classic track “Triumph”. Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Joey Badass, and Big K.R.I.T all appear on the standout cut and each of them kill it on the cypher style beat.

The guest appearances on Long Live A$AP are not limited to “1 Train” as A$AP Rocky and ScHoolboy Q reconnect on “PMW”, showcasing their obvious chemistry that has been apparent since their fan-favorite “Brand New Guy” track that appeared on Live Love A$AP. A$AP Rocky also receives an inspired guest verse from Gunplay on “Ghetto Symphony” while Santigold sings on the hook of the indie pop-esque song “Hell”.

Through all of this, we see that A$AP Rocky’s greatest strength is his musical diversity and creating an environment that appeals to different kind of listeners with a variety of tastes. His production selection is inventive and Rocky chooses his guests wisely on a project that is unorthodox going by the typical standards of New York hip-hop. A$AP Rocky and the rest of the mob refuse to be bound by regional expectations and this is made clear on this project. While Long Live A$AP may not be fresh in people’s minds in terms of 2013 albums, it is a distinct body of work that deserves a spot in my top 10.

Listen to Long Live A$AP below and let us know what you think of the review/ranking!

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