Review: A$AP Rocky's 'Long.Live.A$AP'

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After about a year of heightened anticipation, Rakim Mayers – better known as A$AP Rocky – has unveiled his debut album, Long.Live.A$AP. Released on January 15 by A$AP Worldwide, Polo Grounds Music, and RCA Records, the album has made a rather big splash in the urban world and has earned the artist a multi-million dollar record deal, the likes of which have not been seen since 50 Cent began his successful career about a decade ago.

Quickly rising through the cracks of the underground rap world, A$AP Rocky’s debut album has earned him a seat the top at the top of the charts. Long.Live.A$AP features two promoted singles – Goldie, which is the lead single off the album, and “Fuckin’ Problems,” which features guest appearances from rappers Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar. The two tracks are quite different from each other in terms of style, energy, flow, and lyrical content, but are both very well produced. In fact, the entire album is well structured with heavy emphasis on production value. A$AP’s beats are unique to that of many other rappers, which is perhaps why many have flocked to his music; it’s a new sound.

Unfortunately, guest artists and featured producers aside, A$AP Rocky’s material is perhaps the weakest aspect of the album. A$AP offers next to no lyrical inventiveness, nor is there any actual substance to his lines. He spends most of his verses re-hashing well-worn hip-hop tropes “ bragging about his high-fashion tastes, his glamorous life, and supposed street cred, the latter a frequent source of controversy.

A$AP Rocky utilizes different musical and production techniques in his songwriting, copping a falsetto in a few of the choruses, which helps distinguish him from others in the game. He also relies heavily on pitch-shifted vocals, dropping his voice about two octaves lower. It’s a cool effect, but he uses it excessively. When he raps in his natural voice, it gets rather monotonous. This in conjunction with his lack of lyrical substance makes for a dull listen. In contrast, when another rapper is featured, the track quickly livens up with the new flow and lyrical content. Perhaps the most intriguing track is “Wild For The Night,” produced by dubstep icon, Skrillex and featuring rapper Birdy Nam Nam, simply because it’s far more upbeat and breaks the one-note flow of the rest of the album.

Simply put, Long.Live.A$AP is perhaps a step above a mediocre debut album. There are tracks and parts of tracks that are enjoyable but the faults are too much to overlook. While the beats are for the most part well-crafted and unique, the album doesn’t stand together as a whole. However, there is certainly room for Rocky to grow, expanding on his obvious potential, and it will be interesting to see what he will offer on his next album.

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