After what has been a difficult period for A$AP Rocky after losing his close friend and mentor, A$AP Yams, the A$AP Mob frontman bares all in his latest release, At.Long.Last.A$AP.
At.Long.Last.A$AP is the follow up to Rocky’s major label debut, Long.Live.A$AP (2013), an album that, despite it’s commercial success, has been criticised by Rocky himself for containing too many songs he didn’t like. With that being said, you instantly feel that Rocky has been able to assert more creative control over the bulk of the album’s content and sound, resulting in no space for Hip Hop/Pop crossover tracks like ‘Fuckin’ Problems’, ‘Wild For The Night’ & ‘Fashion Killa’, as seen on Long.Live.A$AP.
Rocky opens with ‘Holy Ghost’, which sees the first appearance of Joe Fox, a singer/songwriter whom Rocky met on a London street last year, and who makes multiple features throughout the album. Rocky speaks on his relationship with God, using many religious metaphors to paint his picture, with the vocal assistance he receives from Fox only accentuating the religious connotations of the song. This is the first of numerous tracks that have Rocky flaunting his lyricism over indie rock and soul samples, a change from the sonic direction that initially made him popular. ‘Jukebox Joints’ is the greatest example of such, with the minimalistic, sample-based production style allowing room for Rocky and Kanye West (who is also credited as a producer) to provide entertaining perspectives. Rocky sparks the fuse by making slick references to past relationships and involvements with the likes of Iggy Azalea and Rihanna, while Kanye chimes in with a verse to rival the one he supplied on Tyler, The Creator’s ‘Smuckers’.
A song that beautifully ties Rocky’s influences together is ‘Wavybone’, which is produced by Juicy J and also features a verse from the Three 6 Mafia man, in addition to verses from both UGK members, Pimp C & Bun B. The hook and first part of the verses would not sound out of place in the New York, boom bap, golden era of Hip Hop, juxtaposed with the following section that is soaked in southern influence. This song in it itself shows Rocky’s strongest inspirations are being allowed to flourish on this album, and it has resulted in a more complete project.
With 18 songs, At.Long.Last.A$AP certainly gives Rocky enough time to display all his different skills, and one of those is his ability to make what is defined as a “banger”. It began with the first single to come from the album, ‘Lord Pretty Flacko Joyde 2 (LPFJ2)’, which carries an incessant boom that is likely to go off in the club, or anywhere, for that matter. It continued with the leaking of the track, “M’$”, though the leaked version did not come equipped with a feature from Lil’ Wayne. As the titled implies (and the hook clearly states), Rocky takes this moment to talk about M(illion)’s and brings some of his most boastful bars to the table. A further highlight in the same vein is the track ‘Max B’, which serves as an ode to his fellow Harlemite of the same name, and inspires Rocky to supply some of his best lyrical content.
As well as showing his versatility throughout, Rocky remains loyal to his core fan base by providing them with the sound that has acquired their support since 2011’s Live.Love.A$AP. ‘Fine Whine’, ‘L$D’ & ‘Excuse Me’ are all examples of the psychedelic sound that Rocky has refined since he erupted onto the scene in 4 years ago. The cream of this particular crop can be found in the shape of ‘Better Things’, where Rocky uses his off-rapping style to yield one of the album’s waviest (and controversial) moments, suddenly snapping into his indictments of Rita Ora’s actions against him. The way Rocky effortlessly switches flows, dipping in and out of the brash and bouncy production, adds to the already lengthy list of highlights on this project. Another common theme taken from Rocky’s early work that is also presented on this album is his collaboration with Schoolboy Q. The pair team up on ‘Electric Body’, which offers production that lets both rappers impose their distinctive styles, once again, demonstrating their synergy.
The title of the album seems to establish the feeling of Rocky finally achieving exactly what he wanted to with a studio album. The core fans of the Harlem rapper will truly enjoy how this album plays, while detractors will find it difficult to criticise the impressive, if extensive, body of work. The cohesion between the contrasting types of production is near perfect allowing Rocky to exhibit his somewhat overlooked lyricism, as he expresses sentiments of a more personal tone. At.Long.Last.A$AP was certainly worth the wait and has definitely confirmed the potential many Hip Hop followers heard in Rocky a few years ago.