At.Long.Last.A$AP (released May 26, 2015)
Say what you will about the infamous A$AP Mob, but they live up to their boasts: They’re more than music, they’re a movement.
Their trademark eerie musical production has spawned tons of imitators while their mix of streetwear and designer fashions have birthed new wardrobe trends. We need the Men In Black thing to erase our minds of that “dudes in Timbs and nightgowns” phase, though.
Plus, all you have to do is journey down Black Twitter’s timeline to see all the mock A$AP profile names floating around. Their legion is growing, and it’s being led by A$AP Rocky, easily the Mob’s standout MC.
At.Long.Last.A$AP is a bit of a departure from Flacko’s debut, which was packed with club-friendly anthems. Instead, A.L.L.A. is brimming with experimental mood music, using rock and soul samples to establish that familiar dark atmosphere.
Rocky’s known more for his aura than his lyrical acumen but don’t sleep — the boy has bars. The sparse production of “Canal St.” gives A$AP room to rattle off some memorable lines: “Your favorite rapper’s corpses couldn’t match up my importance/My mind is out in orbits, plus my ego got endorsements.” His flow is downright infectious on “Excuse Me,” where he brags about ballin’ in the Bahamas but pouts when the bill collectors show up. That’s that hood rich mentality right there. And as the pace ramps up on “Max B,” so does Rocky’s intensity. It’s proof that he’s much more than some lackadaisical lyricist.
As mentioned earlier, the production is pretty diverse, with upstart Joe Fox providing much of the background vocals. The weird, whiny guitars on “Holy Ghost” sound like church revival down in one of those swamps from True Blood. “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2)” sounds like it was ripped from Bone Thug’s discography. “Wavybone,” with Juicy J and UGK, bring a soulful edge that smells a bit like Stankonia. The diversity keeps the album from getting too stale, but even that can’t ward off some lingering issues.
For better or worse, A.L.L.A. is crammed with a multitude of guests. Some come off great — Lil Wayne finally sounds motivated again on “M’$” while James Fauntleroy provides some radio friendly love on “West Side Highway.” But then, there’s Kanye West on “Jukebox Joints,” who absolutely ruins the soulful track with one of the worst verses I’ve EVER heard.
No, no, — not just worst of Kanye’s career, or worst this year. I’m talking one of the worst my ears have ever heard.
I got one child, one child
But I’m f***in’, f***in’, f***in’ like I’m tryna make four more
They wanna throw me under a white jail
Cause I’m a black man with confidence of a white male
Also, the album runs for nearly 70 minutes, and about halfway through, A$AP’s psychedelic shtick starts to wear thin. The last half of the album is loaded with filler like “Better Things” and “Pharsyde,” even though the latter does have a few choice lines (“Gentrification split the nation that I once was raised/in I don’t recall no friendly neighbors face on my upraising”).
If you’re a card-carrying member of the A$AP Mob, At.Long.Last.A$AP will be the album that defines your summer. Less die-hard fans will find a lot to love, but the crushing amount of filler drowns out some of the stronger tracks.
And that Kanye verse is enough to give the strongest man nightmares.
Regardless, A.L.L.A. is proof that Rocky is growing as an artist. Let the movement continue.
Best tracks: “Excuse Me,” “Canal St.,” “Max B”
3.5 stars out of 5