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Long, Live the Harlem Kid: A$AP Rocky's New Album

Courtney M. Fowler |
January 15, 2013 | 7:58 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

The lead single off the album came out last album. (via Wikimedia)
The lead single off the album came out last album. (via Wikimedia)
When 24-year-old Harlem native A$AP Rocky dropped his first mixtape, “Live. Love. A$AP” in October 2011, he instantly became an Internet sensation. In a contemporary hip hop culture, which web presence is a must and the turn over time for new music has dwindled down to milliseconds, Rocky has made a name for himself as one of the industry's brightest new stars.

Despite leaking a month early, his debut album, “Long. Live. A$AP” lives up to the hype and establishes the self-proclaimed, “pretty mothafucker” as not only a great hip hop artist, but one of the most innovative voices in pop music. 

Anchored by the hit single, “F**kin’ Problems” featuring three of the industry’s biggest stars (Drake, 2 Chainz & Kendrick Lamar), the album presents all of the complexities of Rocky, from his party lifestyle (“Wild for the Night” ft. Skrillex), to his flashy high fashion appearance (“Fashion Killa”), to his rough path to success (“Long. Live. A$AP”).

On one of the album’s most personal tracks, “Phoenix”, Rocky proclaims, "Bloody ink on my pen spelled suicide/ Kurt Cobain even died cause you scrutinize/ It's a fine line between truth and lies.“ The song is a reflection on his own bouts with depression and suicidal thoughts. It also reveals a darker side of the carefree persona that we’ve grown accustomed to.

Last week, Rocky spoke to MTV.com about the track and it’s level of honesty. “Those are natural feelings that we all get sometimes,” he said. “You hurt so bad and you're going through so much pain to the point where sometimes you don't even wanna live anymore. That's how a lot of people think, whether we'd like to admit it or not and that's all I was showcasing. It was that emotion...suicidal kinda emotions."

Though the album shares a similar title as its mixtape predecessor, it’s an obvious evolution for Rocky and a step in the right direction for his clique, “A$AP Mob.” Along with the aforementioned features “Long. Live. A$AP” also offers appearances by a diverse list of musical talent including, Gucci Mane, Lana Del Rey, Pharrell Williams, MMG rapper Gunplay & Florence Welch of “Florence And The Machine.”

Overall, the album itself is a combination of many great, seemingly contradictory aspects. Consistently throughout the tracks, A$AP Rocky’s slick New York rhymes are set perfectly to an all too familiar syrupy chopped-and-screwed Houston sound (“Angels,” “PMW,” & “Goldie”).

In every way, Rocky manages to depict a sense of diversity while maintaining his Harlem roots. One of the best examples comes through “1 Train.” The track, which concrete beat plays like an old-school Wu-Tang song, is classically New York, but at the same time laced with flows from the South (Yelawolf & Big K.R.I.T), Midwest (Danny Brown), East (Action Bronson & Joey Bada$$) and West (Kendrick Lamar) coasts.

Rocky’s worldly lyrics and unconventional style create a solid product and prove that there is room for real hip-hop in this saturated, post-digital music world. 

On the title track, “Long. Live. A$AP,” Rocky raps,Who said you can’t live forever lied/ Of course...  I’m living forever/ I’ll forever/ I’ll live,” and judging by this album, A$AP will be living in the music industry for a long time to come.

Read more of NT's album reviews here.

Reach Staff Reporter Courtney here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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