A$AP Rocky’s debut studio album, the highly anticipated “LONG.LIVE.A$AP,” is both technically fantastic and eminently disappointing.
The good first: A$AP’s vocals flip effortlessly between normal and effected, and his minimalistic beats bang like the most accessible Odd Future tracks. And although most of A$AP’s guest musicians make sense (Drake, Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz all make appearances), the more experimental artists work just as well. A$AP’s flexible flow can even speed up and slow down appropriately to match dub-step artist Skrillex on “Wild For the Night.” On a musical level, “LONG.LIVE.A$AP” is a roaring success.
And this technical brilliance is what makes “LONG.LIVE.A$AP” so disappointing. Because although A$AP’s music will make listeners nod their heads, the lyrical content is shallow like a kiddie pool.
“I said it must be cause a n**** got dough/Extraordinary swag and a mouth full of gold,” A$AP crows in “Goldie,” the first single from “LONG.LIVE.A$AP.” It’s a well-delivered line that does little to expand on the everyday hip-hop theme of player hatred and envy. It’s one of the many overused themes that holds the album back from achieving its considerable promise.
This isn’t an appeal to change the offensive content but rather an appeal to the cliché of singing about one’s own success. Had Kendrick Lamar not released instant classic “good kid, M.A.A.D. city” mere months ago, A$AP’s lyrics might not be under the microscope. But listeners can hear A$AP’s talent.
And they can tell that he could do better.
3 out of 5 stars