The sequel to Long.Live.A$AP has arrived at long last, and it tells a story. The anticipation for new A$AP Rocky material has been rising exponentially for two years now, and with the rapper’s erratic and unpredictable personality, even Nostradamus would have had trouble guessing what we would see next. But just five months after the death of A$AP Yams, the founder of the rapping and producing collective A$AP Mob, it has finally arrived.
At.Long.Last.A$AP (A.L.L.A) was executive produced by Yams, and hence we are presented with one final memento of the Rocky-Yams collaboration. Following the tragedy, Rocky remained under the radar, but what we see in this album is an open-minded musician confessing his endeavours in the healing process.
Rocky wants listeners to look past the papers and into the person
Identity is imperative for artists in the modern music game, and over the past year Rocky has certainly forged his own. From his farfetched Instagram posts to the lyrics “ok, let’s get past all this swag, trapping, and fashion talking,” in ‘Jukebox Joints’, his collab with Kanye, Rocky wants listeners around the world to look past the papers and into the person. The opening track, ‘Holy Ghost’, is certainly a way to provoke thoughts – described as an ‘indictment of the Christian clergy’, ‘Holy Ghost’ is Rocky’s tailored gospel with regards to a personal Jesus he can rely on. His delivery here is certainly high in standard, as is the production.
As stark contrast to the theme of purity that opened the album; ‘L$D’ returns to revel in debauchery. Standing for “love, sex, dreams”, this track is as much a signifier of Rocky’s experimentation with hallucinogenic drugs as it is a hint at his recent sexual endeavours. According to social media, Rocky admits that the inspiration behind this track was an acid-fuelled orgy with nine women. We think the Holy Ghost would approve.
Rocky still has a firm grip on the wheel when it comes to bars
Many of the tracks on A.L.L.A spotlight the production over the verses – the sounds and the beats set the tone. However on tracks such as ‘Pharsyde’ and ‘Max B’, we see the emphasis turn to Rocky’s improved flow and lyrics. In ‘Max B’, Rocky pays homage to the imprisoned rapper Charlie Wingate, with lyrics such as “Passed away from a stray from some fake-tough guy/ Now this the kinda story that should make doves cry” revealing that Rocky still has a firm grip on the wheel when it comes to bars.
Despite the scattering of tributes across the release, there is a sprinkling of arrogance and misogyny that may make listeners question whether Rocky’s reality is the same as it once was. In ‘Better Things’, little is left to the imagination when Rocky says” 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.” Some may find a way to back this, but it’s hard not to see it as something of a blotch in the album.
Joe Fox features on multiple tracks – a previously unknown songwriter who Rocky hand-picked off London’s streets
What we can commend Rocky for is his choice of Joe Fox to feature on multiple tracks – a previously unknown songwriter who Rocky hand-picked off London’s streets. For Fox, this was a life-changing encounter, being raised here amongst other featuring artists including Kanye West, Rod Stewart, Mos Def and Mark Ronson. Yet another weird move by Rocky – one of many.
All in all, A.L.L.A is another release to add to 2015’s outlandish wave of Hip-Hop music. The album may be summed up in the last track, titled ‘Back Home’, where it ends with Yams’ exclamation “A$AP, Bitch!”, followed by what seems to be an industrial crescendo, or an approaching train. Is the end of A.L.L.A the moment that Rocky arrives back home from his psychedelic realm? Is he about to be hit by the train of reality? Whatever it is, it seems A$AP Rocky has made it through the other side.
Will is currently listening to Tears Of Joy by Slow Club
Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham’s IMPACT Magazine.