Review : A$AP Rocky - LIVELOVEA$AP
PitchforkA$AP Rocky violated rule number one of the 10 Crack Commandments: Never let no one know how much dough you hold. The cheddar bred $3,000,000 worth of jealously after the 23-year old New York rapper disclosed the value of his deal with Sony/RCA last month. The offer was tendered largely off the strength of his first two videos, "Purple Swag" and "Peso", a pair of codeine fever dreams that recast Harlem World as a slick-talking color-corrected suburb of Houston.
To cool-hunting 360-wielding record executives, the videos might as well have been advertisements for the A$AP lifestyle: Colt 45, purple weed and purple drank, dice games, bike riding, brandishing Berettas, clothing designers ostensibly known only to Kanye, and a pretty blonde girl in a grill mouthing the phrase: "this is for my niggas getting high on the regular." Picture an episode of "Gossip Girl" where Blake Lively watches Traffic and subsequently opts to explore the Danger Zone of 125th and Lennox.
Unavoidable in the conversation is the enduring absence of a New York commercial force under 30. Since the emergence of Dipset and G-Unit in the first half of the last decade, NYC rap aspirants have largely fallen into four categories: ringtone wunderkinds ("This Is Why I'm Hot", "Chicken Noodle Soup"), technically skilled personality voids (Papoose, Saigon), artful traditionalists (Action Bronson, Roc Marciano, Ka), and Maino.
By contrast, Rocky was telegenic and chanting swag. His lead singles poured syrup-slow Houston ride music atop the malt liquor melodies of Harlem's Max B. What Rocky lacked in lyricism, he made up for in narcotic charisma. Seeking street-cred, Drake announced plans to take Rocky on tour. Seeking swag-cred, Lloyd Banks and Jim Jones hopped on tracks with him. Hype metastasizes fastest in New York, and it's easy to conflate the need for a standard bearer with the desire for a savior. Rocky was the chosen one. Hence, $3,000,000.
Commence the hating. Odd Future's Hodgy Beats called him "A$AP Copy." Old heads looked askance at his appropriation of styles alien to the five boroughs. Blogs painted it as the worst New York investment since the Yankees gave Brien Taylor $1.55 million. Rocky didn't help matters when he allegedly punched out a soundman at the Fader Fort and announced that he and his whole crew had adopted vegetarianism. Thus, every mention of his debut mixtape, LIVELOVEA$AP has pondered whether it justifies the price tag of a Bugatti and several dozen ivory backscratchers. Good isn't enough. People expect Rakim Mayers to be the second coming of his namesake....full text
XxlmagAfter building an incredible buzz with his online smashes, “Purple Swag” and “Peso,” A$AP Rocky has already earned himself a multi-million dollar deal on Polo Grounds, as well as co-signs from Drake, Mos Def and Jim Jones, but until now, fans haven’t heard more than a handful of tracks from the 23-year-old upstart. With LiveLoveA$AP, the rapper’s first full-length project, the Harlemite proves that he’s more than just a flash in the pan—in fact, he’s got plenty of heatrocks to spare.
Much of the success of the project is due to Rocky’s distinct ear for beats. For LLA, the self-described “Pretty Motherfucker” selected the trippiest, most zoned-out instrumentals he could find. New Jersey’s own, Clams Casino—most known for his work with Lil B—provided a handful of the moody, atmospheric sounds (he did five joints in total), and with almost no drums on any of his respective songs, it’s pretty amazing to hear A$AP seamlessly float over the beats and still keep heads noddin’.
Adding genuine Southern flavor to the mix is DJ Burn One (Yelawolf, Pill). “Roll One Up” is a warm guitar-twanging cut that would sound at home on any of the early Rap-A-Lot releases, while “Houston Old Head” sounds like a hip-hop lullaby. Beautiful Lou samples some Pulp Fiction-esque surf-guitar for “Trilla,” borrowing a helping of swag from Houston’s legendary Screwed Up Click, while Soufein3000’s drugged out, “Get Lit,” has an entire verse slowed down in true DJ Screw fashion—a trick that is employed on many of LLA’s songs.
The sole outright dud is the Lex Luger clone, “Brand New Guy,” which finds Rocky doing his best Rick Ross impression (“wooo” adlibs included)—unfitting for a rapper whose strong point is his originality.
Although the music is undeniably the most exciting part of the tape, A$AP does little to get in the way, oftentimes, enhancing the beats with his Bone Thugs-N-Harmony inspired flows. On the tape’s closer, “Out of This World,” produced by The Olympicks (the only brand name beatmakers on the project), A$AP even surprises with his lyrical wordplay. “They say Tyga and Diggy/But Rocky been jiggy/Curren$y from the Wiz ain’t enough to get me home/Can’t really hate, when they comparing me to Drake/Could’ve been J. Cole, if I met Jay Hov.”...full text
HiphopdxA$AP Rocky has already RSVP'd for his spot as the next big rapper out of NYC. After parlaying his online buzz into an alleged 3 million dollar deal with Polo Grounds/RCA, the first official project to spring forth from the alliance with his new benefactors is the Live.Love.A$AP mixtape. So long as you resist the urge to feed into the hypebeasting, that pretty motherfucker drops a solid opening salvo worth his couture clothes.
A$AP Rocky not being a Dipset clone meant an instant choir of dissenters dismissing him as a rap usurper, riffing on Houston's swag for a gimmick, as soon as he was pegged as hot Hip Hop prospect. But a listen to his mixtape—if you missed his videos—reveals that he oozes Harlem bravado. It just so happens he and his A$AP crew see no problem delivering it through a purple haze that’s more homage than swagger jack. On the mixtape’s first track, “Palace,” he raps, “Don’t remember me as a wannabe New Orleans nigga, slash lean sipping Tennessee nigga, nah/Influenced by Houston, hear it in my music, a trill nigga to the truest show you how to do this.” Another clear inspiration on Rocky’s cadence is Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, which can be heard on the speedy rap flows flipped over bluesy organs on “Trilla” and throughout the mixtape.
Included on Live.Love.A$AP is "Pesos" one of the two songs that made the 23 year old such a commodity. The muffled drum kicks and spacey synths provided by ASAP Ty Beats made the tune a standout in the MC’s fledgling career. “Purple Swag” is the first song that got the A$AP Rocky chatter started revealed that the codeine sipping culture was part of his shtick as much as Alexander Wang tees and Mason Margiella kicks. However, the song is AWOL, with “Purple Swag: Chapter 2,” featuring Spaceghost Purp and ASAP Nast, and basically an extended version, in its place.
The mixtape’s grooves generally stay on the DJ Screw side of the BPMs and are provided by Rocky’s team of producers that include Clams Casino, ASAP Ty, and Spaceghost Purp. Clams Casino’s tracks are some of its best, including the ethereal “Wassup,” a track tailor made for enjoyment under the influence of whatever your drug of choice. Rocky kicks, “Only thing bigger than my ego is my mirror, clothes getting weirder, money getting longer, pretty nigga pin your hair up.” While plenty of songs stick to the styrofoam cup holding script (“Get Lit,” “Kissin’ Pink”), Rocky shows depth when he tackles topics like seeking wisdom from elders on “Houston Old Head” or reflecting on his come up on “Demons.”
Part of A$AP’s road to rap stardom has included co-signs from Drake and Jim Jones and on his debut mixtape he landed some esteemed features in Schoolboy Q (“Brand New Guy”) and Chace Infinite (“Keep It G”). However, he also gives his ASAP crew plenty of shine that could have better been used to assert his own talents. Live.Love.A$AP is a good sketch of what A$AP Rocky is about, and should have you looking forward to the bigger picture he’s capable of delivering....full text
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