Music review: A$AP Rocky

January 26, 2013 

A$AP Rocky's “Long Live A$AP.”

  • Rap A$AP Rocky “Long Live A$AP”

An early year’s best

A$AP Rocky sums up the past few of his 24 years on the plush and lovely “Suddenly” when he intones, with wonder, the phrase “from ugly to comfortably.” Just-out-of-the-gate rappers rarely espouse happy bewilderment so nakedly, busy as they are with hardheartedness.

Such emotional openness is part of the charm of rap/hip-hop’s $3 million man. The Harlem, N.Y.-raised Rocky shows gentle shock and awe while remaining raw and true to rap’s street code throughout this debut artist album. Add to that his fluid changes of speed and flow and his flips of script – musically and lyrically – and you’ve got quite a stunner.

What’s audacious about Long Live is how eagerly A$AP jumps before sonic booms provided by producer/electronic music-makers Skrillex and Danger Mouse. The former provides A$AP with a juiced-up mix of weird reggae and screeching noise. The latter offers him billowing rain clouds through which to dance and loll. Vocal guests such as Santigold (on the hooky “Hell”), Drake, and Kendrick Lamar are good, ample duet partners. But Rocky is his own best friend, especially on “Suddenly,” on which he coproduces the watery house track and its character-filled storyline.

In the first month of 2013, we surely have a year’s-end best.

A.D. Amorosi - Philadelphia Inquirer

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