It’s been 2 years since we last heard from ASAP Rocky and just as the world was starting to forget about him Rocky gives us 18 tracks with 18 reasons to not forget about him. ASAP’s sophomore album is a relaxed, cloudy, psychedelic and soulful experience. Rocky’s not trying to appeal to everyone as his honesty is boasted through the drugs he takes and women he fucks. However, this album is absolutely perfect to sit back and just clear your mind. Not all of the songs fit this frame, but the majority do.
ASAP doesn’t opt to put any of the featured artists in the song titles as if it humbly boast that he doesn’t need the superficiality of their identity and fame for his own gain, that he’s confident enough to sell with solely his own name. Nevertheless it still doesn’t take away from his mysterious humility as he rewards the listener blessing us with contributions from the likes of M.I.A, Future, Juicy J, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Clams Casino and Mos Def. He really looked like he wanted to create a dope album no matter who was on the track, and he was successful with that.
A break down of the most notable and memorable tracks:
Holy Ghost (Ft. Joe Fox)
The first track on the album central theme touches on ASAP’s approach his faith in god. It’s a beautifully sombre and clean way to start the album, which funnily enough takes a turn in many different lyrical escapades that are the opposite of clean. It’s as if the song is his own prayer and confession of guilt before he goes off to further taint his admittedly, corrupted soul for the rest of the album.
The most notable part of this song is the outro hook which sounds like an old school choir hymn. But what we’re actually hearing is ASAP and Joe Fox singing raw with no audio effects or auto tune. Understanding the roots of the songs creation gives a greater appreciation for it as we discover Joe Fox is actually a British street performer who ASAP discovered walking the streets of London in the middle of the night. He’s featured on nearly a third of the album so it’s clear to see ASAP doesn’t discriminate with his creativity, whether you’re a no namer or as well-known as Kanye West it’s clear he just wants to make dope music that people will like.
Fine Wine (Ft. Future, Joe Fox, MIA)
This song could almost lull you to sleep as ASAP and Joe Fox combine once again on the hook for a very relaxed melody. But you’re quickly woken up as MIA comes in on the bridge on notable album highlight as she lurches “”Tell your new bitch she can suck a dick!” like she has a mouthful of bad blood. Future finishes off the song on up tempo quick hitting rhyme sympathising with Rocky on the subject of love and broken relationships, which both Rocky and Future have experienced recently.
After listening to LSD you can sense that ASAP wanted the listener to really feel his psychedelic experiences through the production of the ambient beat. This song serves as an ode to the love affairs he has and feelings associated, or even lack of, feelings during an LSD trip. If you’ve ever taken LSD you can probably relate to his outlook, if not then the artistic captivating music video is the closest thing you’ll probably get to it.
The album seems to hit his groove at this point as one of the best songs on the album. As soon as the 13 year instrumental from Vulkan The Krusader hits we feel like we’ve been woken up from a trip ourselves by the previously paralysing LSD track. Excuse Me feels like the moment Rocky is coming out of his trip as the hard hitting beat intertwines beautifully with his rhymes. By the time the hook comes around ASAP switches it up to a sound reminiscent to the preceding track LSD. It feels like the hook represents him going going back into another trip and the last verse is him coming back out of it. Whether he intended to or not we are taken on this intoxicating audio experience.
JD + Lpfj2
JD pays reverence to the icon that is James Dean who Rocky seems to identify strongly as he does like to call himself “the black James Dean. This song serves as a intro to the previously released Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LBFJ2)” which in itself is a monster song that most fans would have heard already. However no matter how many times you hear it you never get tired of the hulking sirens and aggressive lyricism as he criticizes anyone coming at him for handouts and threatens anyone who wants to put their hands on him. Which honestly seems more like an empty threat, especially if you look at how he responded when interviewers asked him about 50 Cent having beef with him.
Electric Body (Schoolboy Q)
No doubt you’ll be hearing “Electric Body” on the radio and in clubs ASAP. Rocky and Q combine once again (previously collabed on PMW, Hands on the Wheel, Brand New Guy). The most noteworthy mention on this song is the production value. The song seems to be broken down into three distinct sonically driven sounds. Aside from that not much stands out from this track, it’s a good record that will appeal to a wide audience.
Jukebox Joints (Ft. Kanye West)
The first collaboration between two of hip/hops fashion killas ASAP Rocky and Kanye West goes very well on one of the best tracks on the album. Though it may take more than half a dozen listens to reach that opinion the song grows on you from what may at first listen, as a mediocre track. Kanye’s feature even seems lacklustre if we compare it to recent features like U Mad (Vic Mensa) and Blessings (Big Sean). The song hits its pace as the beat switches up to a more soulful beat Rocky exclaims to cut the bull shit and “listen close I got some shit to tell you” as he refers the chorus of Rihanna’s song ‘Umbrella’ hinting at something nobody had suspected, but wouldn’t be surprised if he had done. Kanye finishes the song off with an old school soulful sounding Yeezy as he once again leaves us wanting more.
Max B + Pharysde
While the content of his lyricism may be admirable Rocky dedicates the track to a Harlem Rapper Max B who was given 75 year jail sentence as Rocky reflects on his possible offences and illegal activity that could have resulted in the same fate as Max B. All in all the production seemed jarring and confusing like the beat was off pace half a step the whole song.
West Side Highway
I originally wasn’t going to comment on this song but something about it draws me to it. Maybe its James Fauntleroy’s voice, the lax slow hitting drums or its ASAP’s disregard for the feelings of the women he’s with. Whatever it is it’s the most underrated song of the album.
This song got ASAP into some trouble over the shot to Rita Ora. But in the many interviews he’s taken ASAP admittedly doesn’t want to be seen as a misogynist who degrades women, he’s simply speaking his honest private thoughts. The average artist don’t show much of the inside tales of their life, neither have the fearlessness to name people on records. ASAP did both those things on this record and shouldn’t apologise for it. It ain’t his fault Rita can’t handle some ASAAAP. I feel like this song wouldn’t be mentioned at all if he hadn’t mentioned that polarizing line, the rest of the song is easy to forget.
M’$ (Ft Lil Wayne)
Most of us were definitely not expecting the Lil Wayne feature but interestingly enough ASAP Yams was the reason Wayne made a feature on this album as ASAP recalled in an interview with Hot New HipHop exclaiming to Rocky “that he gotta have Wayne on the album”. It’s a good thing Yams did because Wayne flowed really well over the grungy tough instrumental. The lyrics aren’t anything to brag about it’s a very superficial song that touches on the subject of money that we’ve heard time and time again.
Everyday (Ft. Miguel)
Many could argue this is the best song off the album. Miguel ties in Rocky’s verses well to create another beautifully smooth soulful song. Everyday serves as a celebratory anthem for Rocky’s success, content and happiness with his life. He uses this track to unbashfully admit the person he is “Yeah I’m a piece of shit, I know I plead the fifth” but still has the confidence within his flaws to declare and believe “most dykes’ll fuck me” finishing the song with “and I’l be fine just a drinking my wine bitch” sending the message that he doesn’t need to play the games of crime to be successful.
Back Home (Ft. Mos Def)
Lastly, Rocky and Yasiin Bey AKA Mos Def combine for a tribute song for the late ASAP Yams. The album ends on ASAP Yams claiming the trend setting effect the ASAP Mob has had on fashion and hip/hip. It’s a tribute song to someone who has passed, there’s no need judge it. Just enjoy it.
Concepts of honest religious questioning, death, women and drugs are the main themes of this album. Intertwine this with a soulful old school production and a 21st century twist would be an accurate description for this body of work. As for the tracks, well there are a combination of short hard-hitting and full body tracks littered with great features. It all seems cohesively put together, the album makes sense.
ASAP Rocky can be quiet for 2 years (no press, no interviews, no music, no features) but when he drops something you need to stop what you’re doing to listen to it. There’s something about him that we all can’t get enough of. Even if you don’t think of yourself as an ASAP fan there’s something about his persona that gravidities you towards his music. His quiet on social, and easy to forget but even when he’s not buzzing he’s buzzing.
If there’s one critique to have about the album it would be its length. At 18 tracks the album feels just a little too long, taking a page from Kanye’s minimalist approach may have been more beneficial in creating a more concise body of work. The more forgeable tracks that could’ve been mitigated include Max B, Pharysde. Yes, some may argue the dedication of the song Max B to the Harlem Rapper Max B was admirable but the production seemed too jarring and confusing.
At Long Last ASAP is easily his most ambitious, inventive and cohesive album to date. Will you remember this album in 5 or 10 years’ time? Probably not. But like one of Rocky’s LSD trips.
Written By Alex Sandalis