LONGLIVEA$AP (Polo Grounds/RCA)
A$AP Rocky was a readymade star the moment he appeared from thin air in 2011. But although the image of this syrup slurpin’ post-Lil B weirdo with a street hustler’s mentality and a penchant for high fashion was a good sell, under closer inspection he seemed like a manufactured hip-hop Frankenstein. So why was his 2011 mixtape LiveLoveA$AP so incredibly alluring? It was probably because Rocky’s success is very much real, and his feeling of elation poured into your headphones. Musically, Rocky will forever be indebted to Clams Casino, whose style of emotive ambience is the perfect counterbalance to Rocky’s Houston influenced flow. The first half of LongLiveA$AP effectively magnifies his appeal and now the mixtape sounds like a rough draft. But admittedly, some duds crop up. Fashion Killa doesn’t even bother trying to disguise itself as filler, lead single Fuckin’ Problems feels strangely cheap, and good luck dropping your preconceptions about the garish, Zane Lowe-friendly Skrillex collab Wild For The Night. But for all its flaws, this is an aurally pleasing and addictive record. And if Rocky’s aesthetic is a collage, that’s no longer a problem. Because with LongLiveA$AP, he’s officially claimed it as a signature style.
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Words: David Reed