'Long Live A$AP' review: Hip-hopping styles

A$AP Rocky releases "Long Live A$AP" Jan. 15, A$AP Rocky releases "Long Live A$AP" Jan. 15, 2013. Photo Credit: Handout

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REVIEW

A$AP Rocky, the 24-year-old hip-hop sensation from Harlem, sounds like he's been doing this a long time.

Not only does the leader of the A$AP Mob have the swagger and confidence in his rhymes of a veteran on his major-label debut, "Long Live A$AP" (RCA), but his style is distinctly influenced by the rappers who rose to prominence around the time he was in grade school, as well as Rakim, the Wyandanch rapper A$AP Rocky, aka Rakim Mayers, was named after.

There's a bit of Wu Tang Clan on "1 Train," where A$AP Rocky leads his crew through tales of the subway line running through their hood, their excitement causing their rhymes to run into each other. He assembles a different sort of group on "---- Problems," including Drake, Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz, for more of a radio-friendly Bad Boy-era party that would rule the airwaves were it not for its expletive-laden chorus.

More impressively, though, is the way Rocky weaves his way through a wild range of hip-hop subcultures, from the Dirty South to Houston's chopped-and-screwed music, to the Cali vibe of producer Hit-Boy, the synthier groove of Clams Casino, and even the dubstep of Skrillex. He handles it all without changing his own style, one that gets the details right like Jay-Z and swings between playful and serious, like Biggie.

One minute, he's outlining his dream life in "PMW (All I Really Need)." The next, he's confessing suicidal thoughts in "Phoenix." That's a sign "Long Live A$AP" doesn't just secure his present, but promises a bright future.

 

 

A$AP Rocky

"Long Live A$AP"

GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE A '90s-style rapper working today's styles

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