A$AP Rocky – “Long. Live. ASAP”

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“This is boom bap, it’s the new rap” the man says, on the first of two Clams Casino oddesies on A$AP’s long-awaited debut album; it’s prescient, really, since the album grounds itself in what are ultimately standard hip hop tropes, but allows the production teams room to explore a lot of the new, art-damaged sounds that are showing up in modern rap.  He was given $3 million for this album, so a lot of the blinged-out nature can be attributed to the fact that ASAP Mob’s breakout star just got paid; there’s a surreal sense of humour throughout, rendering some of the more blatant examples of machismo into tongue-in-cheek plays on the culture.  As cutting-edge as A$AP comes off, however, Long. Live. ASAP is a story of its guests.  Schoolboy Q’s verse on “PMW” shows off his up-and-coming skills; Santigold takes the Clams Casino trip of “Hell” and turns it into a soaring banger; Kendrick Lamar, the big winner of 2012, brings his sublime flow to both the raucous “Fuckin’ Problems” and the perfect posse cut “1Train” (which also boasts a stellar Action Bronson appearance).  At the same time, the album’s lowlight comes courtesy of Skrillex and his signature frat-boy brostep work; if this is going to be a thing, where MCs get Skrillex to appear on tracks, I might just kill myself.  Still, it’s only one misstep on an album full of great moments.

FINAL MARK: A-

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