A$AP Rocky’s follow up to LiveLoveA$AP has been a long time coming due to sample clearance problems but the wait has been worthwhile as LongLiveA$AP hits a standard almost as gold as Rocky’s teeth.
The album opens with title track ‘Long Live A$AP’, a cavern of reverb and haunting samples with A$AP rapping about living forever whilst in the game. The beats on the album are fantastic across the board and Rocky has to take credit for having such a good ear. Clams Casino provides the instrumentals for ‘Hell’ (which features Santigold) and the fantastic I-proved-you-wrong track ‘LVL’. The high standard of the tracks sometimes upstages Rocky’s rather one-dimensional rapping and it’s disappointing that he rarely breaks away from his ‘pretty boy thug’ persona.
The topics that Rocky covers are occasionally overworked; heavy focus on bitches, guns and money can make the album a bit self-involved but he always manages to pull back the ego with a well placed reflective track (see ‘Long Live A$AP’, ‘LVL’, ‘Angels’). The album’s weak points predictably fall after the strong mid-section. These black marks come in the form of ‘Fashion Killa’ – a list of clothing brands that a female acquaintance wears, and ‘Phoenix’- a track that proves A$AP can rhyme the n-word with the n-word for four minutes.
Despite Rocky just about holding his own on the stellar beats, the albums undoubted high points are the collaborations on tracks ‘Fuckin Problems’, ‘Train’ and ‘Ghetto Symphony’. ‘Fuckin Problems’ is brainless catchy second single, ‘Train’ is a showcase of some of the finest rappers today with Kendrick Lamar, Danny Brown and Action Bronson amongst others making an appearance. ‘Ghetto Symphony’ is perhaps the album’s strongest track, featuring a verse from Gunplay, its blaring background horns really push the album in a more positive direction after a lull in quality. ‘Walk For The Night’, the collaboration with Skrillex is a surprise as it almost works. The pitch shifted vocals over the reggae-esque opening is not instantly engaging, but as the beat speeds up and A$AP spits rhymes at double time with no vocal manipulation the track comes to life, and then loses its edge by having a heavily Skrillex influenced chorus. This track comes at the strongest point of the album and certainly earns its place.
Despite a few filler tracks, LongLiveA$AP is a very strong release from one of hip-hop’s most promising starlets.By Joni Roome