Debut albums can be make or break in the world of hip hop. Oftentimes artists will be featured on countless collaborations and then begin working on their own album. This first album could be the launching pad to eventual stardom, as was the case for the likes of Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, and Drake, or it could be the album that sends you straight back to square one as it did for Kreayshawn. A$AP Rocky has positioned himself to be in the fold with the former with his release of “Long.Live.A$AP” back on January 15th.
A$AP’s debut pulls from a list of established artists in the form of Florence Welch, of Florence + the Machine fame, Santigold, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, 2 Chainz, and Skrillex. Drawing from this list gives the album a very eclectic mix of beats and rhythm which makes the flow from song to song very jerky but should also keep the listener interested and waiting to hear what’s next. “Long.Live.A$AP” has a very East Coast feel to it with flowing rhymes and conscious lyrical content, at least for the most part. For a true fan of hip-hop this would hit the spot on a few different levels and for the casual hip-hop fan the hooks are just catchy enough to warrant a few listens through the entire album.
A number of songs stand out on the album and command more attention than others, as is the case with all albums. “Hell” which features Santigold is one of the many songs that references A$AP’s rise to fame from a very rough childhood in which he lived in shelters all over New York City. The lyrical content on this track is arguably the best on the album and resembles the East Coast style very well by incorporating well thought metaphors and cryptic rhymes.
A$AP Rocky’s “F**kin’ Problems” (ft. Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar)
“1train” is a memorable song off the album due its constant changes. While the beat remains stable throughout the song’s entirety, the frequent change in artists is very reminiscent of Bone Thugs N’ Harmony. One interesting dynamic of “1train” is the transition back and forth between lyrical styles. While the East Coast and West Coast rap battle has been over for years, the style differences remain very much in play. A$AP opens this song with a verse similar to the theme of the entire album in that it’s about his rise to fame. From there Kendrick Lamar lays down a verse that is very much in line with the West Coast style of gangster rap. It creates an interesting ebb and flow throughout the entire song.
The track that will be getting the most airplay will be “Fuckin’ Problems” due to its All Star lineup. With Drake, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar all chiming in, this song will live a nice life on the charts. The hook is methodical and therefore very catchy. However, the content of the song lyrically gets a little bit shallow at times which can be expected for a song that will be a chart topper. With that said, “Fuckin’ Problems” is deservedly one of the better tracks on the album do to the beat and overall catchiness of the song.
In all, “Long.Live.A$AP” is a solid debut that should get fans of the genre excited for another budding star from New York City. His style resembles that of Wiz Khalifa but his willingness to explore hooks with a diverse group of artists is refreshing. Too often hip-hop artists try to carry an album on rhymes alone and do nothing to advance the genre as a whole. The collaboration with Florence Welch is an especially nice step in the right direction in the unification of the ever emerging indie rock scene and the hip-hop world. The album’s name is a statement in itself and it’s fair to say that the hip-hop game will be hoping for an equally entertaining sophomore release and not the typical slide back that haunts so many artists with their second album.
Written By Mitch Inkrott
OurVinyl | Contributor