9 p.m. Saturday
Blue Note Lounge
2408 N. Robinson Ave.
Harlem, New York, rapper A$AP Rocky has released his highly anticipated debut album, Long.Live.A$AP.
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the freshman disc, especially since it leaked over a month ago. After just one listen, it becomes clear that Rocky has put together something special.
Like Rocky’s popular mixtape, the similarly titled Live.Love.A$AP, this album features a collection of songs about everything from poverty and violence to fashion and partying. Rocky spits about where he came from, where he is now and where he’s headed. He’s flashy, yet intelligent; gangsta, yet elegant.
The project kicks off with the title track, which perfectly introduces the 11 that follows. It features great Rocky verses mixed with a hard-hitting beat and a smooth hook that says, “Who said you can’t live forever lied.” While Rocky surely doesn’t expect to live forever, he realizes that his music will.
“1Train,” is a perfect example of a posse cut, featuring young hip-hop greats Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Big K.R.I.T., Action Bronson and Danny Brown. Each rapper lays an excellent verse, with K.R.I.T. and Bada$$ especially showing off their skills. No hook was needed for this gritty hip-hop joint, sporting six minutes of impressive rhyming.
“Phoenix” is an exceptional song that begins to close the album. Rocky raps about dealing with public scrutiny and how it affects artists, referencing fallen stars like Michael Jackson and Kurt Cobain. The song features a beautiful Danger Mouse beat and shows the pressure that up-and-coming artists like Rocky face.
“Phoenix” is followed by “Suddenly,” the closer about how Rocky’s superstardom sort of hit him overnight. The song pairs a slowly developing and soulful beat with strong Rocky rhymes from start to finish. Not long ago, he had nothing, but suddenly, he has everything.
Others featured on Long.Live.A$AP. are rappers Drake, 2 Chainz, OverDoz and Schoolboy Q. Dubstep artist Skrillex and singer Santigold also make surprising appearances. The album features great production from the likes of Clams Casino, Hit-Boy, T-Minus and as the aforementioned Danger Mouse.
Rocky undoubtedly shows his talent throughout this project. His flow is on-point and shifts to match each song, while his lyrics are well-constructed and excellently delivered.
It’s certainly early in the year, but in about 11 months, it wouldn’t be surprising to find Long.Live.A$AP. in the hip-hop-album-of-the-year discussion. —Ryan Querbach