Written By:Angelo Gingerelli
A$AP Rocky burst onto the scene in 2011 with the now classic mixtape LiveLoveA$AP and immediately established himself and his A$AP Mob crew as a force to be reckoned with by combining Harlem swagger, dirty south influenced production, a penchant for high fashion, great live shows, a keen understanding of social media/celebrity culture (He’s been linked romantically to several starlets) and a reverence for past generations of East Coast Hip-Hop (He was named after Rakim and the crew constantly name checks legendary rappers). His first studio album, 2013’s LongLiveA$AP, provided multiple hit singles and club bangers but many argued it lacked the cohesiveness to really qualify as a classic debut.
Two years and change later A$AP Rocky is back with At Long Last A$AP, an album that clearly aims to not only provide a summer soundtrack but also to silence the critics of his first release. While his debut was full of varied production and guest MC’s, this album is a much more focused effort to show his skills as a solo artist and establish a signature sound.
The album is clearly influenced by the recent death of crew member A$AP Yams and from the cover artwork to the overall somber tone of the record Yam’s presence is felt throughout. The album starts with a thoughtful examination of organized religion (“Holy Ghost”) and ends with a tribute to his deceased comrade (“Back Home”) and the 16 songs in between all feel as if they were made by an artist still dealing with the death of a good friend.
The album’s first single “L$D” took some fans by surprise by eschewing the Party/Club Anthem typical of most mainstream rap albums and taking things in a trippy, spaced out direction. This single is pretty indicative of the whole project, and while Rocky definitely steps his lyrical game up on most of the tracks the melodic flow and chopped-and-screwed sound on this song are found throughout the album. While this kind of musical consistency is definitely refreshing in an era of disposable singles, it could possibly be the album’s weakest point for fans not ready for 60+ minutes of this chopped & screwed vibe.
Overall, At Long Last A$AP shows a young artist maturing and finding the balance between the street and the pop charts. While the album isn’t made for today’s instant gratification generation, fans willing to listen a few times and absorb the entire project will be rewarded with one of the best albums of the year.
Stand Out Tracks: “Holy Ghost,” “Electric Body,” “Jukebox Joints”
Perfect For: Walking around NYC with headphones