2012 was supposed to be the year of A$AP Rocky. He was expected to release his debut album shortly after ending a world tour with Drake and Kendrick Lamar. However, as each month passed we were given more delays and push backs which didn’t bode well for the hype surrounding everything A$AP that slowly died down as the year progressed. When Rocky announced his final release date (January 15, 2013), it appeared like a kiss of death. But after one run through of Long.Live.A$AP it becomes clear that 2013 can just as easily be the year of A$AP Rocky.
A$AP Rocky doesn’t attempt to put up the façade of linear storytelling, but rather he puts on a 16 track showcase of his uniqueness and adaptability. Put the album on shuffle and nothing sounds out of place. The ambitious concepts attempted on this album are executed flawlessly for the most part. Take for example “Wild For The Night” his collaboration with EDM heavyweight Skrillex, which may be the most forward thinking move a contemporary rapper has made since Kanye snagged Bon Iver for his album. The trapstep reverbs are muted at first then progressively brought to trunk shaking volume as A$AP Rocky glides over them with his trademark effortless flow; in the process creating a song that may have even more popularity in the ever popularizing world of EDM than in rap. A$AP Rocky didn’t change everything from his 2011 debut mixtape, but rather he got better at everything he was doing; the lyrics, beats, and overall cohesiveness of Long.Live.A$AP is above and beyond that of his past offerings.
One thing we learn from Long.Live.A$AP is that for the most part, A$AP Rocky shines brightest on his tracks with little or no featured artists. “1 Train” where Hit-Boy turns off the trill and turns on the strings for an ominous sounding beat that Rocky and Kendrick shred with ease. But with the absence of a hook there are just too many rappers on “1 Train” for you to internalize anything that’s said, because there’s another rapper right behind them. The commercial smash “F*cking Problems” is a great song and even better single, but Rocky’s verse gets somewhat washed over by Drake and then the song stealing 16 Kendrick Lamar drops to finish the song. A$AP Rocky runs into the same problem on “Ghetto Symphony” that many have in 2012…if you give Gunplay a verse he will steal your song. “SHOW ME WHAT YOU OWE ME AND A PORTERHOUSE WITH THAT” may be my favorite line on the entire album. A$AP Ferg also makes the lone A$AP Mob appearance on the album on this song and it’s not the scene stealing verse he contributed on ‘Kissing Pink’, but it’s still clear he’s one of the best lyricists in the collective.
That’s not to say A$AP Rocky can’t hold his own with other rappers, but that when he has the song to himself you see just how special of an emcee he truly is. “Suddenly”, which may be the highlight of the album, is somewhat Rocky’s victory lap, but he does it without sounding cliché or stuck up his own a**. “Now the kids all look up to me/them bitches wanna fuck with me/my idols say whats up to me/from ugly to comfortably, suddenly”, Rocky raps with a self-reflective tone. The album not only showcases the sound that A$AP Rocky created, but he also addresses the beef with those who claimed to have influenced it, namely SpaceGhostPurrp claiming “Niggas claim they the god of black, well your name is purple I’m the god of that” Rocky raps on Angels; and “Bitch motherfuckers trying to fake it trill
Sneak diss you just to make a bill, now the world won’t take you serious
When I met you, you was painting nails” he raps on ‘Jodye.’ Long.Live.A$AP is not just the name of the album, but it’s the mindset behind what Rocky is doing with this album. The fashion obsessed drank sipping jiggy nigga music that has now infiltrated every facet of rap is A$AP Rocky’s in every sense of the word and one listen of Long.Live.A$AP shows you why. “Long Live A$AP now bow to your messiah” might be sacreligious, but the sentiment still echoes.