National Album Review: Long.Live.A$AP by A$AP Rocky

Posted on January 21, 2013 in Album Reviews, Arts & Culture
By Sam Hill

It’s official: Long.Live.A$AP has been worth the wait.

New York rapper A$AP Rocky was signed to the majors almost two years ago, and a road of scrapped projects and delayed release dates was all that followed. Everyone was ready to write him off before the spacey single “Goldie” was released last April, just in time to remind the world why they ever listened to him in the first place.

Rocky sounds charismatic and confident in his debut, successfully creating an album that only amplifies his already odd persona. He wasn’t scared off by the spotlight. His work on Long.Live.A$AP shows that he is evolving as a rapper and lyricist without deviating from the path he set with earlier mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP.

“Hell” sticks out as a typical “I made it” track. “We used to wear rugged boots, now it’s all tailored suits,” he raps. But it’s not as cliche as most hip-hop debuts, especially with his collaboration with Santigold for the hook and a subtle shout out to Socrates. Every rapper deserves the right to make at least one track like this.

To hear Rocky at his most serious moment, listen to “Suddenly” as he describes his seemingly overnight rise to fame and his rough upbringing in Harlem. The song has no distinct beat, but rather a collection of distorted samples and sound effects that weave together, fading in and out as the song progresses. He delivers quite the message that easily makes one think of a rapper such as Common or Nas instead of Rocky, rapping, “I only got one vision, that’s for kids in every color, religion / That listen, that you gotta beat the system, stay the f— out the prisons.” But he quickly clears up this quick-lived moment of seriousness by rapping, “Don’t view me as no conscious cat, this ain’t no conscious rap” –– rapper first, activist second.

The only mistake made on Long.Live.A$AP is the track featuring the two biggest stars. “F—– Problems” features Drake and 2Chainz, both well-established mainstream rappers. This track is absolute garbage. This is what happens when rappers try to go mainstream. They dumb it down for the radio and Top 40 charts. They could have written these simplistic verses in their sleep, and the hook is one of the least imaginative of the decade, reminiscent of 50 Cent’s “I Get Money” from 2007. Even Kendrick Lamar delivers a lazy verse. It’s like their goal was to create an awful song.

That one track aside, Long.Live.A$AP is a well-crafted debut album, a must-listen for any hip-hop heads and one hell of a start to 2013.