Sunday, January 13, 2013

Live Review: A$AP Rocky - LONG.LIVE.A$AP

Hey this isn't a "best of 2012" post

Okay yeah it isn't but whatever we're doing this instead.

ASAP Rocky's debut mixtape has been a pretty persistent presence in my iPod, phone, etc. One of those great mixtapes where you can play it all the way through and never want to skip, but it also had a few cuts that were addictive enough to be daily listens for months later. Clams Casino production was at a real sweet spot where he had really mastered the heavy, cloudy, trillwave-defining sound. "Palace" is probably the most definitively trillwave song of all time. And then you had that sweet sweet gfunk influence on stuff like "Kissing Pink", feat ASAP Ferg on that Nate Dogg resurrection sung verse: "Tellin' me she wanna bone but I ain't got no condoms on me" is the next episode. The whole tape was seriously good.

So now Rocky's blown up or whatever, new album coming out on a major label, guest appearances and productions from people at the very surface of the mainstream (Skrillex?!?!), what the hell is it gonna be like? Let's uh take a look:


1. Long Live ASAP
Title track get hype right away. I think I saw the music video for this, it was all black and white and stuff, the aesthetic of the album cover. This is some serious shit right here, atmospheric thunderstorms etc. "I thought I'd prolly die in prison" is an amazing opening line and I love this beat. Rocky is flowing really nicely over this too, bbouncing etc. I like the really deep "uh" interjections, that is like his trademark I suppose. I love this beat though. Oh man sung hook stuff, what is this sampled from? I guess this supplies the title and such. This is really nice. "Live." before the beat comes back on is really nice. Oh man these like, triplet flows. Nice. I think too often people overlook the fact that Rocky is a damn good rapper, focus on his production too much? Sure he isn't like mister insightful lyrics etc that often but he flows really nicely. The muted echoey stuff on these hooks is really smooth, very well done. I like the idea of that short verse and then we go back to the hook with like bonus echoes and stuff. That's great. And then the like, cut back to just instrumental for the outro, that's fantastic. This production seems halfway between Clams Casino and Lex Luger, I love it. A+

2. Goldie
I heard this one a bunch before. Prolly everything has been said about it by now. I love these vocal modified verses, and how he still has even more bottomed out "uh"s and "yeah"s. But yeah solid solid flows here over a really exciting and unique beat. "It's just me, myself and I and motherfuckers that I came with" is a great line that has a lot of deserved attention in the "media". Bass-heavy hook hell yeah. The theme of this song like y'all talk but etc sorta stuff is a pretty good. "You can call me Billy Gates got a crib on every state/Man on the moon got a condo outer space" nice yeah. Solid gold hit here yeah that's true. S-

3. PMW (All I Really Need) (Feat. Schoolboy Q)
Real talk for a long time I mixed up Schooly D and Schoolboy Q and I was very confused very often. Holy crap this is a trill as hell intro. This is hardcore leanwave. This flow is great, he's so good at that sorta stutter triplet stuff. Woaaah this beat is really nice, really refined. "Purple drink?! Got that!" with the beat drop that's huge. Hooooly shit going IN on this one wow. Some moaning stuff that works REALLY WELL here. Oh man I understand the title now, pussy money weed. What about lean?? ASAP sheesh man you forgot the LEAN! Schoolboy Q going in here really, love that ye-yeah double. And then the flow like doubles down, "give her that diggity-dee" haha excellent. The contrast between the really trilled out laid back hook and beat with this rapid rapping man that's huge that works hella well. I am really impressed by this song. I was worried that this would have too many like, club-marketed bangers, which I love, but that this sorta really unique and rap-focused stuff might be left behind. But nah. S

4. LVL
Woah this beat, this name, this is like maximum contrast mode. Claaaams. Ooooooooaaaklaaaaaaand. "Thousand dollar drawers just to hold my balls", lel. This is all about like him coming up and running the rap game, but this is also about Clams going on some like, BoCBurialMaxima stuff which is SO COOL, with the heavy "uh"s and "yeah"s which you already know I love. ASAP goes on his most ghetto thuggin sorta flows, man Rocky is like, how is he so badass? The way he flips up his flows here is just absurd, from heavy, slow, brick "I see DEAD PEOPLE", "I behead people", really glorious thunderclouds, and then he hits us with staccato fast stuff so smoothly out of that, Rocky raps like a really good fighting game player, or like a really good actual boxer, like Rocky I suppose. Oh man choral ending what the hell. Clams sometimes seems like he is parodying himself but it WORKS WOW THAT OUTRO. A

5. Hell (feat. Santigold)
This is pretty sinister, yeah, pretty ghooooulish. What's Santigold been up to since that album where she was puking gold on the cover? This is pretty good so far though yeah, I like the heavy beats way in the hazy back there. Santigold here on the hook now, I like it. Like sweet-sour brain licking sorta feel. "It's the gold teeth, french braids, call me Project Pat", haha Rocky I love that guy googlie mooglie etc. "Wake 'em up like Folgers" haha. "My doors still suicidal", are suicide doors really big in hip hop now? Actually off the top of my hand the only other one I can remember is Chris Brown's cheesy hari kari line. Whatever. I like this outro, Santigold's verse or whatever. Yeah this outro is nice, I love when they bring out the drums. A-

6. Pain (feat. Overdoz)
This is like classic classic Rocky. I dunno who Overdoz is. This intro is pretty long, like a minute and ain't no one rapping. "The future will be televised/Haters getting genocide", good first line. "Fuck you and your instagram", lel. Coming in with that varied flow again but I dunno this one is kinda just all feel less substance? Aka not banging enough. Okay here this flow sorta fun, really good bouncing off the beat and stuff. This last verse is pretty good all in the modulated voice, funny lines. B+

7. Fuckin Problems (feat. Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar)
Okay yeah we go from the pinnacle of spaced out atmospheric to heart of the club megabanger. I love this song. I have heard it like fifty times. And that's counting the fact that I hate Drake. Rocky has a great club sorta verse here, super flowy with some nice anthemic shouty lines, BEAST. 2 Chainz on that hook man he is right in his element. And the way the other guys come in on it nice so good man. Okay Drake fine. The verse isn't... horrible, but it is sorta annoying. Who says "we can stare up at the stars and put the Beatles on" on a song called "Fuckin Problems"? Fucking Drake. Kendrick kills it though man. Such a good blend of like really great flowing while still being hilarious and super offensive. "GUHR! I KNOW YA WAN DIS DIH!", hahahahahaha oh man that's amazing. Beast, indeed. And oh man the beat, this is like, a perfectly engineered beat. This deserves to be like twice as popular and that's saying a lot. S, S+ without Drake

8. Wild for the Night (feat. Skrillex)
YEAH YOU READ THAT RIGHT. BABABABBABABAAAANGARANG! Where's THE DROP??? I like this verse though oh man but production heavy minimalist. OH MAN HERE WE GO. "Me myself and I, my three friends", "me and my nigga Skrillex", holy shit this is actually happening. Skrillex has to be at his most Skrillexy because they seem to acknowledge that this is just insane. HAHAHAHA AND IT IS, those robo bleep bloops and voices, but man this is actually banging pretty hard at the moment. JUST GOTTA HEAR THAT FINAL DROP. Really this is one of Rocky's least interesting flows it just doesn't sound like it because there's laserouterspacewars at the same time. Okay come on mega drop on the outro??? DO IT?!?!?! Please? Skrillex you are not above this. You are this. Give me what I want. No no. Don't just fade out. No. There's no time. CALL 911. A

9. 1 Train (feat a lot of people)
Alright here we go crew cut. Yes. Off to a good start here. This beat is solid, really good for a crew cut sorta song. "Anything is better than that one train!" I dunno if I understand the reference. Oh man transition into verse two is solid. Who is this? Kendrick? I think so. He is TEARING IT UP. This is like his exact element. Man that slow triplet flow, oh man, this like, intensification of voice, this like, theatrical talent. Verse three pretty solid too. Lots of pretty emotional type stuff, more AA feeling than like... braggado. Yelawolf soooooooon. I kinda sleep on this guy but I dunno the idea of a new Eminem in this trapped out environment is pretty appealing. He's going in here. Man that like, raspy sorta accent sorta think. SHEEESH. DAAAANIEL. Holy cow OH MAN OH MAN. I can't even see him he has gone so far in. "Dat molly got my nauseous/Sitting up in hospice", intense. This verse is good I want to hear it five more times. Action Bronson I don't know him as well as I should either. This flow is pretty amazing, I like the sorta gaspy feel, guy has a lot of prowess. Man Big KRIT flowing like a sped up Pusha T or something I love it. This flow is intense man this is a veteran of the game sorta flow. Woah man playing that veteran card in a really powerful way. This is such a perfect fusion of two eras of hip hop. Oh man and that outro too. Wow I can hardly stand that I have to listen to the rest of this album and I can't just go back and hear this ten more times. *

10. Fashion Killa
Hmm, what is going on here, this is some really pretty shit. What the hell is this song about though actually? It is really a lot about fashion. Oh okay, uh, hm. "She jiggy like Madonna but trippy like Nirvana", huh? This is a weird ass song. The beat and stuff is solid but man I don't know, this is not really what I expected. I don't know who would make a song like this which I guess is pretty cool unique. Did Chairlift produce this or something? Seriously what is he talking about though like, so many of these lines are like, really cutesy stuff? He's been rapping about a girl for like 3 minutes and I don't think he's alluded to banging her at all. This is... not... something is wrong with Rocky. This outro is pretty interesting sonically though. Well whatever. B-

11. Phoenix
What do we got here? Depression sorta flows. Lots suicide lines, Illuminati references? Man wow this is... dramatic. These exposed piano chords and such. Crazy, crazy, what is going on? This beat is really solid as hell and the way they brought it in really was worth it after all. "Kurt Cobain even died 'cause you scrutinize" you mean the one your girl was trippy like? I dunno I think there's a lot of this I'm not getting on this first playthrough which is fine. Man though the feeling when that beat comes in here is solid and woah thunder boom sheesh this is really quite dramatic, but really quite beautiful. "Now I'm walking on my own y'all wish me luck", Rocky has moved on from the sort of practical street philosophizing of the first mixtape to some real existential crises, weird, cool? Is this even a hip hop song at this point? Oh man I love that beat though. A

12. Suddenly
Final track get hype. Wow eerie. "I swear this famous shit just happened overnight", well, that's pretty accurate really. More sorta existentialism problems, nostalgia, crisis of identity. I guess this stuff had been hinted at before but here we get this stuff at the forefront. I dunno man this stuff is interesting but like... his flows are least interesting when he gets on this sorta shit, just sorta... sufficient. Not really the sort of stuff I'm in it for. OH MAN HE JUST ADDRESSED THIS EXACTLY, haha, that was great, but then he keeps on it, I dunno. Is this that conscious crap or not, then? This some real activism stuff and woah FINALLY GOING IN. Yeah yeah this, I like the repeating last word of lines, and then we break down on this "suddenly..." and the beat, pretty solid. Outro pretty catchy too. But yeah uh not enough rapping! Even the most thoughtful/melancholy stuff on the first mixtape at least had a couple really solid verses. I like this outro though, really nicely frantic and chaotic. A-

13. Jodye (bonus track)
What is this beat? Like, Yume Nikki? Woah. This is legitimately pretty scary. And this flow is demonic. I like it. And he's going in a bit here too, pretty nice. Shoutouts to his most classic lines, pretty motherfucker, repping Harlem, etc. The intensifying whisper of dying for his niggas etc, that's pretty well done. And oh man this breakdown with the samples and stuff, what is going on? This verse is pretty solid, pretty powerful. I dunno man those last few songs were just too... soft, not enough just good rapping over actual beat-like beats. And this too is pretty weird but we're getting back there. But yeah just thinking about stuff like that ASAP Ferg hook being on stuff by the same guy is just totally incongruous, in a way that is both interesting and cool but also just like... huh? A-

14. Ghetto Symphony (feat. Gunplay, ASAP Ferg) (bonus track)
This could be really good. OH MAN THAT BEAT. "Outkast my whole life so I decide to spit like Andre" okay let's hear it go for it. I like this beat, it is trill as hell. This is pretty exciting, I like this sorta breakdown hook thing, Gunplay going in heavy and rugged. They gave him a nice traditional beat to tear up and he's doing it good. More than spitting like Andre he more brought in a guest that spits like how Killer Mike would when he'd go on an Outkast song. So I guess that sorta makes Rocky Andre? Also where is Ferg? I wanted to hear some. OH MAN HERE WE GO. Spitting like Big Boi he says, pretty good, fun stuff. I was hoping he'd sing but he's a really entertaining rapper too, really fun flow. I dunno what sorta Big Boi songs he's been listening to lel but that was good. A

15. Angels (bonus track)
The title made me think we were in for more whiny sorta stuff but I dunno he's rapping right from the get-go at least. This flow pretty cool. I dunno I guess this is a pretty standard sorta song after all, which is pretty cool. The beat is interesting but falls short of being really banging. Talking stuff he started, calls himself the God of Purple, brought Harlem back. These prolly aren't actually exaggerations. Rocky a trendsetter that's for sure. A-

16. I Come Apart (feat. Florence Welch) (bonus track)
Who is Florence Welch? Was she the girl singing on that one Killer Mike song? Maybe? Anyways this beat is pretty banging but what is Rocky whining about now? Oh here's Florence, weird, I would never have guessed this album'd have a guest like this. Wouldna guessed this guest. Sheesh man I dunno this isn't really the Rocky I signed up for. Did Rocky figure he'd get more money trying to be the next Drake instead of the next like, Dr. Dre? Sheesh I dunno. This breakdown here wouldn't be out of place on some white man's indierock album. B

Final thoughts

WELLLLLLLLL I dunno, when I listen to a hip hop album, unless it's by someone I absolutely love, I'm basically just looking for songs catchy enough for me to want to listen to again and again. On that metric it gets like... 7/16. Almost a pass?? That's pretty... ignorant or arrogant of me or something I guess? But whatever. I figured this album would be really marketed to mainstream clubs and such but that it'd be full of bangers and I was excited, even if deep down I'd be disappointed that it lost that unique trillwave Rocky feel. So like the opposite happened? It has a few really good club bangers and a few good ASAP-style bangers but most of it was even more absorbed into that trillwave sort of atmosphere, often at the cost of the rapping entirely.

So whatever. 1 Train is HUGE, though, prolly listen to that a whole lot. And I'm still hooked on Fuckin Problems, title track and Goldie and PMW are probably the three songs best representing exactly what I wanted from this album.

But yeah pretty good regardless.

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