It’s been a speedy four years since ASAP Mob rose into the national spotlight. Starting with 2011’s “Live. Love. ASAP,” ASAP Rocky came into the forefront of hip-hop, representing a collective of rappers, producers and fashion designers. Releases like “Lord Never Worry” and ASAP Ferg’s solo project “Trap Lord,” displayed that ASAP Mob was capable of solid projects. It also stated that it was more than just tastemakers for a new generation of hype-beasts.
ASAP Rocky’s “At. Long. Last. ASAP,” or shortened to “A.L.L.A.,” serves as the follow-up to his 2013 debut album, “Long. Live. ASAP.” Released May 26, “A.L.L.A.” arrives just in time for the summer, and it’s no sophomore slump. ASAP Yams, founding hand in ASAP Mob who passed away in January from a drug overdose, serves as executive producer, accompanied by hit-maker Danger Mouse. His presence is felt throughout the album, but it does not overbear. Rocky pays homage to a mastermind who helped him get to where he is, but still makes the album able to stands on its own.
Listeners of “A.L.L.A.” will notice a light but potent influence of psychedelic-rock. Songs such as “L$D” and “Holy Ghost” give a hint that Rocky may wish he was a Woodstock attendee. He’s been public with his drug use in the media, but it doesn’t seem like much of facade. With production credits from Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and Pablo Dylan, grandson of the infamous folk singer Bob, the album earns its stripes.
Most people are familiar with ASAP Rocky from songs that are found on most pre-gaming playlists. “Problems” was in club rotations for a respectable amount of time, while college kids rocked out to “Wild for the Night” featuring Skrillex on the regular. You’ll find more of that on “A.L.L.A.’s” first single, “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2,” as well as the Lil’ Wayne-assisted “M’$,” which is sure to be a hit in the future. If there’s one thing ASAP Rocky can be counted on doing, it’s making music for people to get inebriated to.
That being said, it’s been tough for Rocky to earn his hype. He was arguably out-rapped by Drake and Kendrick Lamar on “Problems,” and he is famous for his take-your-time flow that can be entrancing, but sometimes can get listeners impatient. Fortunately, “A.L.L.A” allows ASAP Rocky more room to breath. “Pharsyde” gives off an Eminem-like vibe that screams insecurity, but ends with a non-needy, DGAF attitude; a glimpse of the lyrical capabilities of the Harlem rapper that’s both imaginative and encouraging.
ASAP Rocky never has a shortage of back-up on his projects, and there’s a star-studded features list on “A.L.L.A.” Rod Stewart and Miguel show up for some reason on the Mark Ronson-produced “Everyday,” serving as a decent second single. “Fine Whine” has Future and M.I.A. making brief but vital cameos. Schoolboy Q’s appearance on “Electric Body” is a worthy reminder of the carefree Rocky we’ve grown to love. Even the Kanye West-assisted “Jukebox Joints” feels like a natural addition.
“A.L.L.A.” closes with a recording of ASAP Yams demanding credit for the impact that ASAP has had on hip-hop and fashion culture. There’s no denying that the collective Yams was able to put together has already made a significant mark on hip-hop today. “A.L.L.A.” is a necessary listen for ASAP enthusiasts; if you were are a fan, you’ll stay a fan. It serves as proof that ASAP Rocky is made of more than his typical crowd-pleasers … or it also could just be all the drugs.
E.J. Spangler is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.