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Review: A$AP Rocky – “LONG.LIVE.A$AP”

“His debut album is scheduled for release next month, and with respect to Meek Mill and Kendrick Lamar, we consider him the biggest star in hip-hop yet to put out a major-label record.”

Last semester, I wrote and published a list of the top 10 A$AP Rocky songs, which included that rather regrettable sentence in the first paragraph. Two things wrong with it:

  1. That article was published in September. A$AP Rocky’s debut album, LONG.LIVE.A$AP came out today, during the third week of January. Never in human history has anyone opened his mouth in September and accurately referred to January as “next month.”
  2. Rocky didn’t get a guest spot on Kendrick Lamar’s debut, but Kendrick got two on Rocky’s. This total power move by Kendrick means that he is a bigger star than Rocky according to the Non-Reciprocal Guest Appearance Rule of Hip-Hop, which I just made up, but whatever it’s still true: if you pay a dude to be on your album, but he won’t pay you to be on his album, he’s more important than you. End of discussion.

Give Rocky credit though, because he saw the storm coming. Kendrick Lamar’s debut album came out in October and turned out to be the greatest thing in human history and singlehandedly convinced the Mayans not to destroy the Earth. Meek Mill released his debut, Dreams & Nightmares, the next week, but nobody could stop listening to good kid m.A.A.d. city so Rick Ross ate him while no one was looking (just kidding, Meek, you’re still a boss!). The Halloween release date for Rocky’s debut was wisely pushed back.

A$AP Rocky Long Live A$AP tweet

Now, if you’re copping Rocky’s album expecting something that will make you truly appreciate the miracle of life for the first time the way GKMC did, you will be disappointed. But if you’re looking for something that picks up where Rocky’s debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP, left off, DAT PMF delivers exactly what you want.

LONG.LIVE brings back much of what made its predecessor work (Rocky’s infectious delivery and rhyme patterns, Clams Casino’s spacey production) while eliminating a lot of what didn’t (the 8,000 terrible A$AP Mob guest verses, the lack of variation to complement Clams Casino’s spacey production). The opening trifecta of the title track, the lead single “Goldie” and the Schoolboy Q collabo “PMW” is actually about as awesome a beginning as we’ll probably see on any album in 2013. You can even forgive Rocky for striking out on trying to create the next YOLO (uh Rock, you need vowels for people to scream an acronym right before they do something stupid) and getting out-swagged by the swagtastic prince of swag Schoolboy Q (click this and scroll to #2. Swag swag swag).

The album truly peaks with a three-song run further down the track list, consisting of the super posse cut, “F***in’ Problems,” the Skrillex (yes, SKRILLEX!!!) collabo, “Wild For The Night,” and the super-duper-if-these-dudes-were-all-in-the-same-room-at-one-time-the-mic-would’ve-exploded posse cut, “1 Train.” The highlights of the highlights:

  • “F***in’ Problems”: Drake shouting out Nelly and the Beatles in one couplet, Kendrick Lamar yelling “Thi dih!” and you knowing exactly what he means, and 2 Chainz getting the chorus but no verse.
  • “Wild For The Night”: SKRILLEX!!!!!!!
  • “1 Train”: A$AP Rocky, Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T verbally assaulting Hit-Boy’s ice-cold production for six solid minutes until you can actually see it bleeding all over the carpet, begging them to stop. We’re only three weeks into 2013, but I can’t imagine anything this awesome coming out in the next 11 months.
Photo courtesy of Grindahz.com

Photo courtesy of Grindahz.com

The issue with LONG.LIVE is that while the rest of the album has flashes of awesomeness, like when the beat drops on “Suddenly” and Rocky spits 12 rhymes in two seconds, most of the songs drag on for too long or sound too much alike and blend together. With the exception of “Ghetto Symphony,” the final six tracks fail to come anywhere close to the highs of “Goldie” or “1 Train.”

Like many debuts, LONG.LIVE.A$AP finds its creator occasionally realizing his potential while most of its tracks fall a bit short of the lofty expectations. But when one album offers up five legitimate candidates (“Goldie,” “PMW,” “F***in’ Problems,” “Wild For The Night” and “1 Train”) for the Mods soundtrack (another thing I kind of made up to judge the social implications of an album from a BC student’s perspective), you can’t really knock it as much as bump it. Plus I know one thing: anything is better than that 1 train!

Just kidding. Nothing is better than “1 Train.” Thank you Based God A$AP Rocky.

Gavel rating: 7/10

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About Robert Rossi, Managing Editor, Emeritus

Rob hails from Lexington, Massachusetts and is a member of the Carroll School of Management Class of 2013, concentrating in Finance and Marketing. He joined the Gavel Media editorial board as a freshman and was Culture Editor during his sophomore year before assuming the role of Managing Editor in January 2012. He loves hip-hop, Dos Equis commercials, and talking to people about Tom Brady. Follow him on Twitter @RVRossi. Contact: Website | More Posts