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CD Review: A$AP Rocky's 'Long.Live.A$AP'

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky Credit: A$AP Rocky (Getty Images)

'LONG.LIVE.A$AP'
A$AP ROCKY
3.5 stars

The studio debut of young Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky continues the trend of increasingly high-quality releases from rap's new guard.

An unapologetic hedonist (lyrically, at least) with an insatiable taste for wheels, women and weed, the fashion-conscious, French-braided newcomer made waves with his top-flight 2011 mixtape "Live.Love.A$AP," which featured the radio hit "Peso" and established his signature sound of hazy, syrup-sipping beats, screwed-down vocals and a relaxed, pinpoint flow focused almost exclusively on his own flyness.

His follow-up is a noticeably heightened effort that draws on a wider range of styles to achieve the same ends, mixing in softer tracks like "Fashion Killa" and the air-raid siren dub of the Skrillex-assisted "Wild for the Night" alongside boisterous winners like "F-----' Problems," featuring Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and 2 Chainz, and the boy's club of "1 Train," also with Mr. Lamar, and what could be an alternate version of XXL magazine's Freshman Class, from Danny Brown to Joey Bada$$ and Big K.R.I.T.

Rocky tends to repeat himself when running free, but there's a definite sense of increased artistry at work, enough that this title isn't just a case of wishful thinking.

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