I don't think anybody can blame me for being skeptical of A$AP Rocky
over these past few years. Seeing one of my favorite rappers of 2012 follow the predictable path of getting caught up in everything except his music is an understandable reason for doubt. Rocky's presence in the fashion world and initial jump into the acting game scared me a bit. Then the news of A$AP mob co-founder A$AP Yams untimely death hit and I had nearly lost all hope for the album Ive been waiting for. But at long last, A$AP. Rocky might as well have called me out personally in the first track for ever doubting him. His sophomore album is finally here, and A$AP Rocky gives his fans everything they could want and more with At.Long.Last.A$AP.
This is a hefty album. Darker themes, immaculate lyricism, intelligent beats with smart flows, love and self loathing round out the record. A veritable Justice League of features also comes through to compliment Rocky throughout the tracks, including: Kanye, Miguel, Mos Def, UGK, Schoolboy Q, and MIA. These features all feel right at home on their respective tracks as Rocky makes sure each one is tailor made for the team, helping the album achieve a sense of purpose that his first work Long.Live.A$AP.
was missing. More importantly, he sticks to the "trill" genre of rap that his fans identify him with while successfully branching out and bringing his rhymes to places I never would have expected, but am so glad he did.
Rocky knows that he's hot shit right now and that this album is going to pop off, he opens it off with "Holy Ghost," an ode to himself. It walks the line that borders the plebs of hip hop, the mindless fantasy raps, but finds a sweet spot where it doesn't just sound like "look at all of my money." The variety of the album is to thank for this, his lines about blowing racks in Paris don't feel overused with sincere love songs separating them. "LSD" and "Fine Whine" shine here as heartfelt ballads to everything that tears Rocky down. Breaking up the slow beats with Rocky's explicit but patient raps feels oh so right and are easy to get into, even going into the album with an expectation for trap bangers.
Don't worry, those are here, too. Tough raps over Danger Mouse produced beats are ready to be bumped. Pay attention when you do so, though, because Rocky genuinely sports some of the most intelligent and difficult raps out there right now. Clever rhymes and puns fit right along there with the best of them, who he happens to have on the record. Kanye makes an appearance on "Jukebox Joints," a track that feels like it was pulled right off of College Dropout
. Rocky takes his time on these tracks, allowing himself to go in for three or four verses to really get his point across.
With all of these features, I am a little disappointed that Rocky didn't include a cypher track, similar to "1train" on his first album. The artists all clearly work well with Rocky, but greedy me wants a track with all of them. It could have easily replaced a track like "Better Things" that feels almost useless lined up next to the other tracks that have much more of a clear purpose. Aside from these hiccups, I owe A$AP Rocky an apology. I was skeptical, I may have even bashed him a couple of times, but he pulled through. Boy, did he pull through. R.I.P. A$AP Yams.