A$AP Rocky Review
This may be the only time I ever review a mixtape. Some hip-hop artists are so prolific with the amount of mixtapes they release (e.g., Gucci Mane), it is often hard to keep up. So, I often just stick to studio releases, and the occasional mixtape that gets a lot of good publicity. Well, I can’t recall a mixtape that has gotten as much hype as A$AP Rocky’s LiveLoveA$AP, and the alleged 3 million dollar deal he received from RCA/Sony. I was skeptical of the hype Rocky has been receiving, but let me tell you that this self-proclaimed “pretty motherf****r” has delivered not just the best mixtape of the year, but possibly the best hip-hop album in general.
Combining a delivery mature beyond his years (23 years old) with rich production throughout, A$AP Rocky has established himself as the name to watch in hip-hop. With talent like this, and the ability to execute an album this successful at this age, a career arc similar to Lil’ Wayne and Wayne’s Young Money empire seems a distinct possibility. Only so much credit can be laid at the feet of A$AP Rocky though, as the production team fires on all cylinders; in particular the work of producer Clams Casino, who produced about one third of the tracks, and Beautiful Lou, who produced two tracks (Note: I think producers have conclusively overtaken the artists themselves as far as self-appointed names go).
LiveLoveA$AP lays its heaviest blows right out of the gate, beginning with the album opener, “Palace”. For my money, “Palace” is the single best hip-hop song of the year, an absolute epic, and the spiritual descendant of “Notorious Thugs”. Sampling the track “Adiemus” off of the a late 90’s infomercial mainstay Pure Moods, Rocky and Clams transform a bit of orchestral chanting into a fearless hip-hop classic. The only disappointing aspect of “Palace” is that it ends after a paltry two minutes and forty seconds.
Throughout the remainder of the album Rocky shows his versatility, seamlessly transitioning from smooth T.I.-style deliveries to rapid Bone Thugs-style outbursts, and everything in between. “Purple Swag” pays proper homage to Mike Jones’ “Still Tippin”, and the video confirms this homage with both the lead female and Rocky sporting grills in their close-ups. “Purple Swag” fulfills the rap album necessity of making songs about smoking pot in an interesting way, and creates a hazy atmosphere that Rocky’s rhyming layers with nicely. The introductory line of the track sums it up perfectly, “This is for my n****s gettin’ high on the regular.”(Note: I am oddly attracted to the girl in the video lip-syncing with the grill in. I feel weird and confused about this.)
Further highlights include “Peso”, which Rocky also has a low-budget video for, and the Beautiful Lou-produced “Kissin’ Pink”. The latter of the two tracks melds a muffled, underwater production technique with an understated hook that compliments Rocky’s lyrics perfectly. And this is really why this album is so damn successful. The production rarely shades the talents of the emcee, and A$AP Rocky has the chops to carry the album without a dozen high profile guest verses and Rihanna/John Legend/Ne-Yo filling in the hook on the majority of the songs.
If you can’t tell from this review, I could not be more excited the future of A$AP Rocky. I must also say that the transition to the spotlight is not easy no matter how talented a young rapper is. So right now lets hope for the best and enjoy Rocky before he is inevitably polluted to a degree by the music industry and completely turned into a product.
Can’t Miss: “Palace”, “Peso”, “Kissin’ Pink”, “Purple Swag”, “Trilla”, “Out Of This World”
Can’t Hit: “Brand New Guy”