Music Review: A$AP Rocky: Long.Live.Rocky

Grade: A+
Verdict: Vertical growth for A$AP on some fronts and a shallow side step on others for an ambitious sounding debut.

Humbled beginnings in poverty stricken, crime-ridden neighborhoods are nothing new to origin stories of struggling rap artists. What does make Rakim Myers (AKA A$AP Rocky) stand out is his rapid rise from obscurity to bona fide superstar status. Following the release of the EP, “LiveLoveA$AP,” the young MC was given a $3 million record deal with RCA Records.

So needless to say with all the success thrown his way in such a short amount of time, there’s plenty of fuel for the haters. “LiveLoveA$AP” was a strong EP, but by no means perfect. What strength Rocky displayed on the production side of things, was lacking on lyrics that relied on tried rap clichés; women, money, fashion and drugs. The results? While it’s easy to hear where all the money went (getting Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Skrillex ain’t cheap), “Long. Live.Rocky” sticks close to what made A$AP’s EPs so strong.

There’s a dream like haze that’s present on every song on the album while Rocky delivers rapid-fire lyrics practically oozing with swagger. That $3 million went into good use on the production and it shows on tracks like “Goldie” which utilizes an uptempo beat accompanied by pan flute and a bump-n-thump Miami bass beat; or the mellow “1 Train” featuring an icy club beat with an Eastern- tinged string section. Oddly enough his home state seems to be the only place he didn’t borrow influences from. From Houston to Atlanta, Rocky’s wear’s his influences on his sleeves through his beats.

There’s enough experimentation and creativity to give each song a fresh feel, and the large number of producers on this album show their individual touches— though none as much as the Skrillex backed “Wild For The Night,” which manages to completely surprise all by not sucking. But the strongest track of all has got to be the four MC collaboration “F#@$%in Problems”, featuring Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar along with Rocky on a testosterone- fueled ballad to err. Well, the polite word would be “women.”

While Rocky has taken great strides in evolving and enriching his sound, his lyrical content didn’t get a much-needed boost. With the resources and success behind him, there’s no excuse for continuing to borrow from all the old rap clichés in lyrics instead of trying to say some- thing truly profound.

“Long.Live.A$AP” shows vertical growth for A$AP Rocky on some fronts and a swallow side step on others. But there’s a lot of ambition to be found on only a debut album. And if Rocky keeps it up, it’s not too out of bounds to expect he’ll keep those hat- ers talking for a long time.