Last night, Harlem's A$AP Rocky released his second studio length album At. Long. Last. ASAP a week before it's official release date. During my first listen of the album, I made some notes. Here is my impression of the release during my first listen of the album track-by-track - no filter, research or time to think.
Holy Ghost (ft. Joe Fox) -
Opens up with the sounds of a crowd - a man ranting. I'm guessing this man could be a protester. Rocky begins rapping about a church, so this man is probably a preacher. The instrumentals are mellow - deep percussions, but also a sharp winding guitar. The hook is addictive with Joe Fox crooning "Holy Ghost i'm on my knees, Holy Ghost, you're all I need." The track finishes with Joe Fox repeating this heavy hook.
Canal St. (ft. Bones) -
Like the previous track, the opening tone is mellow. Electronic drums kick in an the energy rises. The production is minimal, but this is effective as it allows soul focus to be on Rocky without distractions. He does a bit of flexin' in this track bragging about wearing a tux, being chauffeured, Paris, and Cartier diamonds - classic Rocky. Though I do enjoy Rocky's verses, and Bones' hook is catchy, the receptive piano in the background gets annoying towards the end of the track.
Fine Wine (ft. Joe Fox x Future x M.I.A.) -
At first this track has many elements of the 'acid rap' style that is becoming immensely popular. It kinda feels like the whole track is dripping in Lean - the beats are dark, and overall the vibe is fuzzy and weighty. It sounds like a Clams Casino's production work - but I haven't checked this yet. The drums become sharper, and M.I.A. appears - giving some energy to the track. The tribal-eque drums are a highlight, Future on the verse isn't doing much for me - the whininess of his infamous auto-tuned drawls take away from the stellar production from the track. I would have preferred just M.I.A. and Rocky on this one.
Finally! A song with no collaborations on it. So far i've been enjoying his consistency with maintaining the same vibe throughout the tracks. It feels weird to hear Rocky singing, but he is doing a much better job at it then Future in the previous one. The title of this one is appropriate with this track feeling like you're going through LSD - not that I know what that's like, but I have an idea. I would have liked to hear him come on here and spit some fire, but i'm guessing he wanted to maintain the idea of feeling euphoric and carefree through trip. I honestly I hope we never get to see this side of Rocky again - I prefer hip-hop Rocky, not this Indie dream-pop side he is presenting. Kudos to him for experimenting with different sounds though.
Excuse Me -
He is back to rapping in this one thankfully. It sounds as this one has followed on from 'L$D'. He is back to classic Rocky - rapping about fashion, codeine, and the usual stuff he tends to talk about - I would like to see him one day to branch away from this. I'm guessing he will be singing a lot in this album as he's back on the hook. The dream-pop sounds have continued from before, the intensity has risen with his voice remaining sharp, the drums are also louder and more refined. There is still a drug induced haze surround the aura of the track though.
He finally breaks away from indie dream-pop and brings trap back - much to my enjoyment. There's lots of different sounds layered and interweaving throughout. The length of the track is only short so this could be some sort of interlude.
Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2) -
This one goes for just over two minutes which is relatively short like the previous track. The production is fierce and vigorous. This was the type of Rocky we first heard when he released the non album track - 'Multiply'. If you haven't awoken from his soft indie stuff from earlier, then you're awake now. Rocky is finally bringing 'trill' back, and the dirty South style from 'Multiply' is well and truly featured in this one. Though this track is short, it's one you will have on repeat. Flacko is ready to attack.
Electric Body (ft. ScHoolboy Q) -
He is officially back. This is what I was wanting and expecting to hear from his release. The production is piercing and will hit you vigorously. Again, Rocky's flow is heavy influenced by the dirty South. The hook is catchy and makes it a perfect club banger. ScHoolboy Q and Rocky don't work enough together, but when they do it's always fire. Q's verse is profound and he kills it. The production caters well to Q's style. The breakdown out the end does't feel needed and I hope the next track doesn't see him going in a complete different direction as I am enjoying the demonic and grimy sounds of the last few tracks.
Jukebox Joints (feat. Joe Fox x Kanye West) -
Skipped. Enough said.
Max B (ft. Joe Fox) -
Rocky must have paid big dollars for this album, as again the production is fire. I'm loving the temperamental thunderous drums, as will as Rocky's ferocity. He rides the beat without fault, his flow is blazing. Not even when the track mellows out does it kill the vibe. The exuberance from earlier on track returns once again. I wished that Rocky maintained this fire throughout the entire release. But, I do appreciate that his treating this album as an experiment as he tests using different sounds and styles - it's a bold move.
Pharsyde (ft. Joe Fox) -
This one contains another collaboration with Joe Fox - it kinda reminds me during SBTRKT's first album when his album contained lots of collabs with Sampha. Again, Rocky appears nostalgic rapping about his past in Harlem and his past. So far, it appears he has treated many tracks on the album as a diary or a reflection. This track isn't a highlight, but it certainly it isn't the worst from the album.
Waybone (ft. Juicy J x UGK) -
When I first saw there was going to be a UGK (R.I.P. Pimp C) and Juicy J collab - I was excited. I've been dying to hear this, especially considering his flow is heavily influenced by the South. Though Rocky remains strong throughout his verse, Bun-B takes the crown from this one. Bun-B is the original king of 'trill' - even rocky would be able to admit that.
West Side Highway (ft. James Fauntleroy) -
I don't know why, but there is something tropic-pop about the track. Though James Fauntleroy does a good job, I think this song would have gone to another level if it was Frank Ocean instead. No disrespect to James, like I said, he does an impeccable job also.
Better Things -
Here I am relaxing, chilling to the smoothness of the track - and then I hear it - Rocky and Rita Ora have beef? Rocky spits “I swear that bitch Rita Ora got a big mouth/ Next time I see her might curse the bitch out/ Kicked the bitch out once ’cause she bitched out/ Spit my kids out, jizzed up all in her mouth and made the bitch bounce.” Okay then. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.
M'$ - (ft. Lil Wayne) -
The one thing this album has been lacking is bangers - this one doesn't disappoint, once again he delivers. This one is arguably one of the highlights of the album. The production is teeming with fire. The biggest surprise from this track is Lil Wayne - I've been one of the people that have written him off a while ago, especially with the emergence of Young Thug. This is one of Wayne's best verses in recent years. If he he intends on giving us this in future projects, then maybe it isn't all over for him.
Dreams (Interlude) -
Towards the end is a strange place to put an interlude. Rocky must of taken some crazy drugs when creating this album. Again, it appears he is in the middle of a blissful trip.
Everyday (ft. Rod Stewart x Miguel x Mark Ronson) -
Strangest collaboration combo of the year? Probably - but it works. This track drifts back and forth from the soulful sounds of Rod and Miguel to Rocky's fierceness. This one had the capability to been taken over by Rod and Miguel - but it appears balanced and Rocky doesn't allow them to take away his thunder.
Back Home (ft. Mos Def x Acyde x A$AP Yams) -
A strange closer, and not the most memorable. But in this one we hear A$AP Yam's closing it out and it seems fitting considering his significance on Rocky and his role in the A$AP Mob. It's chilling to hear him rap - i've never heard him before - RIP Yams.
Written by Amy Smolcic
note: special shout-out to djbooth.net for the idea of doing first impression reviews!