A$AP Rocky has a lot to live up to with his album Long Live ASAP. After a critically acclaimed mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP and a $3 million label deal, there’s a lot of pressure for A$AP Rocky to prove himself as a rap force to be reckoned with. And prove himself he does in his debut album.
But Long Live ASAP isn’t without its flaws. Rocky has a tendency to fade behind all the big named collaborators that appear on the album. Sure, he’s an ample and proficient rapper, but his bland personality and lack of presence cause him to fall flat next to artists like Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar. It’s the songs without the excessive amounts of already established artists that really show us who Rocky is and that stand above all the others.
The opening track “Long Live ASAP” is not the strongest song on the album and it’s most certainly the most similar to his mixtape. Thankfully, Rocky chooses to explore other rap techniques and doesn’t stick to the style of his title track. The transition from rap into a smooth melody in this song is too stark of a contrast. The result sounds forced and makes the entire track a muddled mess. “PMW” takes another stab at this melding of rap and melodies and is much more successful.
One of my favorite things about this album is the blending of different styles of rap and hip-hop. “Pheonix” experiments with rich melodies while “Jodye” is filled with more of a grinding noise, creating an interesting exploration and intersection of the genres. Lyrically, Rocky says very little, but the listener is never bored and perturbed thanks to his clever use of subtle, yet intriguing background music. The different vibes and beats each track exhibits gives each song a unique feel. It never once feels like your listening to the same, monotonous song.
Without a doubt, Long Live ASAP is a commercial-based album. The excessive use of well established and superstar performers is prime example of this. Yet A$AP Rocky still manages to create a fresh and new album that leaves me waiting to see what else he has to offer.