Verdict: 3.5 / 5
Harlem native, Rakim Mayers aka ASAP Rocky, is a former drug peddler turned pro rapper. The New Yorker’s debut album, ‘Long Live ASAP’ is being lauded and Rocky’s star has risen considerably in the hip hop world. On the opening track, ‘Long Live ASAP’, his dry, weighty and slow paced delivery compliments the spooky production. The song has a credible chorus melody and guitar arpeggio that makes this a decent first song.
‘Goldie’ has a great keyboard lick that’s threaded into the grinding back beat. As is the case in hip hop, ASAP rambles about money, bitches and ni**as, what more could one wish for in a song? A slowed down, demonic toned vocal bobs in and out of the song, we can assume this is for the sake of cool; a solid track nonetheless. Of all the base songs on the album, the head bobbing, arm in the air pumping, ‘PMW’ takes the cake. In one of ASAP’s best takes he and Schoolboy Q declare, female genitals, money and weed “is all a ni**er need”. The demon voiced rapper angle is over exploited once you reach ‘LVL’. While Santigold’s reggae styled singing on the chorus of ‘Hell’ sticks in your head in an otherwise drab song.
Over used keyboards and that demonic voice on ‘Pain’ stifle the album. ‘F**kin Problems’ opens up your ears again. The obscene refrains about bitches are infectious and Kendrick Lamar’s unique tone and delivery make for sweet rhymes. Skrillex does an impressive job on ‘Wild for the Night’. His laser beats create a hard edged vibe that stands out from the rest of the album. ‘1Train’ is soaked in Wu-Tang Clan, it’s epic and solemn. Lamar does his magic once more. With the low piano notes and old school scratching this is one of the best songs on the record. ‘Fashion Killa’ is all pop but in a good way. The keyboard arrangements and programmed beats are fine enough to be on anyone’s album but the warm feel of the song is wasted on silly lyrics that reference fashion and trendy ni**as. ‘Phoenix’ is poignant and cements ASAP’s status as one of hip hops hot new acts. The track is serious and has a new age gospel sound. It’s sparse as well and ASAP’s vocal takes precedence with a howling backing vocal and liquid keyboards dripping in the backdrop. ASAP raps about the illuminate craze, references Kurt Cobain and declares he will never judge another ni**er.
‘Long Live ASAP’ is an impressive debut but the contentious nature of hip hop subject matter is a factor that cannot be ignored and does mar the work of many talented rappers.