From the beginning A$AP Rocky has been an artist known for being a bit different from the norm. The self-proclaimed “Pretty Motherfucker”, although from Harlem, boasted a sound more akin to that of Houston than those of New York precedent. After the average artist achieves the level of success Rocky did after their debut they quickly get back in the studio for the follow-up effort, once again the rapper is different.Taking a 2 year hiatus while focusing on fashion, production and other ventures proved to be valuable for the artist as his effort comes with a more mature and developed sound.
While his music is still more distinguishable for its “aura” more so than the technical rap aspect it comes with a new level of focus. From the opening track, Holy Ghost, the A$AP figurehead sets the direction in which his sound will largely remain by album’s end. The intro is laced with rock influence and a dark sound which Rocky uses his to illustrate his view towards religion and how it may not be what it’s cracked up to be. Lines like “They ask me why I don’t go to church no more/ Cause church is the new club and wine is the new bub” give a look into the mind of the artist who shows himself to still be trying to get a grip on certain perspectives in life. The dark content continues on up until album standout Fine Whine which features M.I.A. and Future giving two very great contributions.
The album does take a slightly lighter turn on the drug-laced L$D single. With that being said the album flips right back into its vintage-aura with Excuse Me which is another standout using a flipped sample of a 60’s Christmas song by The Platters. While the focus on the murky sound largely never waivers it does get some outside influences. Help from collaborators such as frequent sparring partner Schoolboy Q, Kanye West and an extremely inspired appearance from Lil Wayne on the extended version of M’s the album has plenty of treats for listeners. I would have to believe Pretty Flacko’s favorite contributions on the record came from a few artists who helped to shape his sound in Juicy J, Bun B & Pimp C. Their dream lineup on Wavybone sounds like the song Rocky always dreamed to be on as everyone laces the record which is good enough to have lived on a 90’s UGK or Mafia album. It has to be noted of songwriter/guitarist Joe Fox’s presence throughout the album. Previously unknown, he was called upon to help with the project after Fox played guitar for the rapper on the streets of London. Fox apparently grasped the opportunity by the neck as he appears on over 1/4th of the album.
Often times on Love.Live.A$AP efforts came off as forced or contrived he flips the script sounding comfortable and confident in the mission of his music. This is evident with the passion of the album cut preceding the outro, Everyday. Rocky uses a wailing Rod Stewart sample and interpolation by Miguel to take the time to get introspective for a bit. “Off again, there he go to another dimension/ My mind, body, soul imprisoned/ My eye probably going ballistic but listen/ I’m missing a couple of screws, they ain’t never do drilling/ True, you been sipping away at the truth” rhymes the Harlem product. The album closes out on the Mos Def-assisted Back Home with the last voice heard being the late A$AP Yams. Notable for his bravado throughout the years Yams leaves us with words warning of the wave his imprint is about to ride to the top of rap. If this album is an indication of the direction headed I must agree as it is the best and most cohesive work to come from A$AP Rocky yet. While lyrically not perfect the creativity exhibited definitely makes At.Long.Last.A$AP one of the stronger efforts to come this year. – Beamon