Review Summary: Ridin on my enemies, this my Ghetto Symphony
Since taking the blogosphere by storm with 2011's Live.Love.A$AP
A$AP Rocky has been almost solely responsible for the new found relevancy of cloud-rap. But where his mixtape emphasized reverb-drenched production typical of Clams Casino, his RCA debut predictably caters more to the mainstream. That's not to say it's a bad thing by any means. The beats on Long.Live.A$AP
are polished, just not as drugged out and nearly unmastered sounding as most Clams tracks. But besides being slightly more coherent, the lack of constant ethereal atmospherics really puts a spotlight on A$AP Rocky's rapping. Live.Love
was more critically lauded for its production, with most (myself included) panning Rocky for some pretty lazy verses. Thankfully, he's a lot more consistent on Long.Live
, dropping some well executed punchlines, but also combining introspective thought on tracks like "Phoenix", waxing on how his lifestyle acceptance has helped quell his depression:
Bloody ink on my pad spelled suicide
Michael Jackson even passed cause you scrutinized
*** illuminati lies, say I'm lucified
Baptised in the gutter, mother***er you decide
Cause the ride come with doors that be suicide?
Or the thighs on my whores, they be super-sized?
Good and bad happen, wars, nigga chose a side
Now all hail to the Lord like you do to God
Who am I? Lord Flacko
Painting vivid pictures, call me Basquiat Picasso
Capo Head Hancho, now my following's colossal
Ain't no boxer, Pacquiao, but got the chopper en todo caso
It's like you heard, God spoke
I've seen the ghetto gospel
The choir like my reefer and the preacher got my eyes low
***s to Mary Jane to make me see from singing high notes
The bible or the rifle...goodnight folks
manages to be much more thoughtful than its predecessor, while also evoking a sense of surprise with all of its extremely lyrical moments. "Suddenly" follows this same pattern, but explodes into a classic soul sample / boom-bap with a hi-hat thrown in and rapid fire verses a-la "Palace". In terms of regional influence, it's refreshing to see more artists pull traditionally "southern" or "east coast" techniques together and innovate; this record is no exception, and hopefully this trend continues throughout 2013 - especially following up such a strong year in 2012 that really emphasized this sub-genre integration.
Of course, A$AP Rocky isn't without his missteps - although minor. "***in' Problems" and "Wild for the Night" are obviously attempts at somewhat of a mainstream appeal. While some may criticize these tracks for this sole reason, they succeed at their intent - that of being catchy pop tracks. Skrillex straight up sucks, but "Wild for the Night" ends up being a fresh attempt at combining electronic music with hip-hop tastefully. "***in' Problems" was obviously made exclusively for the radio, but fortunately it's one of the best tracks on the radio today.
In short, Long.Live.A$AP
takes what made his debut new or exciting and more finely hones it. Most rappers tend to lose their capacity for innovation after signing a big deal, but thankfully this isn't the case. A$AP Rocky has a bright future ahead of him - and hopefully a classic on the horizon.