Review: A$AP Rocky - Long.Live.A$AP

Long.Live.A$AP's eponymous opening track echoes the young Harlem-born rapper's ego - "Who said you can't live forever lied/Of course I'm living forever" - Rakim Mayers is on top of the world, put bluntly in a line on Goldie ("It feel good wakin' up to money in the bank"). The brilliant hook on the opening track is a perfect summation of the 24-year-old. Lyrically, it's indifferent at best, like the rest of the album and most of Rocky's past work, but almost everything else is almost entirely faultless.

Let's get the faults out of the way: the lyrics are indifferent, insignificant and completely conventional; A$AP Rocky lacks wit, but makes up for it in confidence and charisma - this debut LP is full of egoistic dictums delivered crudely. Other than that, Pain's hook is painfully one-dimensional and unmemorable, but ultimately, the flaws end right about there.

LVL's Clams Casino production is enticingly Purity Ring-tinged - whether or not there is any real influence or not is questionable, but it sounds just as glossy and glitchy as 2012's Shrines. Skipping ahead a few tracks to the curious Wild for the Night, that "feat. Skrillex" label is more than curious - or maybe not, as he seems to be popping up everywhere these days. Regardless, it's a piercing Brostep hit in which A$AP rides Skrillex's electronics gloriously, maintaining his fantastic flow throughout, although it could have done without the "me and my nigga Skrillex" line. It transitions well into 1 Train.

1 Train is easily the album's highlight, a massive track featuring Action Bronson, Big KRIT, Danny Brown, Joey BADA$$, Kendrick Lamar, and, of course, Yelawolf. It's no mystery that 1 Train is produced by the same guy who produced Niggas in Paris - these are both anthems, albeit for different reasons, but anthems nonetheless. Kendrick Lamar and Big KRIT drop brilliant verses on this, but it's Danny Brown who steals the spotlight. His trademark vulgarity is present ("Bitch pussy smell like a penguin/Wouldn't hit that shit with my worst enemy's penis) and his delivery is intense as usual. Consequently, Yelawolf's verse is all the more underwhelming, but that's no surprise - the only weak link on an early contender for Hip Hop song of the year.

Fashion Killa is a bouncy, bubbly track with heaps of atmosphere, Phoenix is as close to a ballad as this album comes and Suddenly is as close to intellect as this album comes, until its closing ten seconds where Rocky saying "y'all niggas ugly, y'all get no Youtube views, y'all get no hoes on Tumblr" overturns that compliment. But really, Long.Live.A$AP is not an intellectual rap album - it is to good kid, m.A.A.d city what Skrillex is to Skream, but that doesn't discount its merits - Long.Live.A$AP is a testament not only to A$AP Rocky's artistic abilities, but to his future legacy as well.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

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