2015 has been a year filled many top artists dropping albums. We’ve had Kendrick, Drake, and Tyler to name a few. One of the leaders of the new school, A$AP Rocky has been one of the most interesting figures in rap culture throughout this decade. Coming up around the time of the Beast Coast movement, Flacko has grown to have the largest fanbase of his fellow new school New York artists thanks to songs like ‘Peso’ and ‘Fucking Problem’. As an artist Rocky has come a long way from his first L.L.A mixtape, and this album is no exception. With just the right amount of fashion brags and wavy beats, At.Long.Last.A$AP proves to be a great album that will surely be in consideration for album of the year.
At 18 tracks containing over an hour of music, A.L.L.A is not a quick listen. Luckily for us, Rocky packs in a BUNCH of druggy beats and great flows to make the album incredibly enjoyable. There are many pros to this album, namely the first half. ‘Holy Ghost’ is a solid start to the album with a guitar rift laced through the beat that conjures up images of Lynyrd Skynyrd. The album truly kicks into ‘Flacko Jodye Season’ with ‘Canal St.’ which features a progressing beat and some of the best bars Flacko has dropped in a minute.
“Fuck jiggy, I’m flawless, fuck pretty, I’m gorgeous, your favorite rappers corpses couldn’t match up my importance”
The piano in the beat is ominous, the taunting hook is equally menacing, and Rocky truly goes off on this beat. Rocky’s ego is in full display, over the bars of this track, and to be honest he wouldn’t be here if he was a humble guy. It’s quite easy to enjoy Rocky’s arrogance and bravado because he has been known as a trendsetter and a hit maker. The next album highlight comes from the incredibly strong 4 track set of ‘L$D’, ‘Excuse me’, ‘JD’, and ‘Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2’.
‘L$D’ is a druggy anthem unlike anything Rocky has ever done, rather than rapping over the hazy beat, Flacko opts to sing instead. The track is not only a highlight of A.L.L.A, but it’s a general highlight of 2015. It’s smooth, and proves Rocky can not only sing, but also write a compelling love song to women. The next song completely switches gears, back to that jiggy Flacko. ‘Excuse Me’ is a return to form, and Rocky doesn’t let up on the brags. The beat is classy and has Rocky dropping bar after bar about the homage he deserves. ‘JD’ follows up similarly with Rocky identifying himself as an icon in his own right. Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye’ is one of the most hyped songs in recent memories and the standout track of 2014. Rocky goes in over a synth crazy beat bragging of his accomplishments, reminding people that he is fashion.
The next noteworthy track comes with ‘Jukebox Joints’, unfortunately it is not in a good way. Lyrically, Rocky is consistent across the album and has drastically improved, but the first half to ‘Jukebox Joints’ beat wise is pretty tiresome. It’s hard to not find yourself hoping for that beat switch after 30 seconds of the initial beat. Luckily the beat does progress, but it is Kanye’s verse that is the biggest disappointment. Yeezus’s flow is all over the place and lyrically, aside from the last two bars, it is pretty uninspiring. Considering how similar Rocky and Kanye are in terms of their fashion influence, one would think that the collaboration would be a 360 slam dunk, but it’s more like a lay-up.
The album starts to take some hits towards the later half of the album with tracks like ‘West Side Highway’ and the ‘M’s’ remix. ‘West Side Highway’ isn’t a bad song, it’s just not that good and feels like filler in the album. The hook is just okay and the layered rapping following the initial hook is pretty difficult to listen to. M’s is likely a song that isn’t bad, but it feels out of place and filler. Thankfully for ‘M’s’, Lil Wayne comes in and absolutely obliterates the beat, creating a redeeming quality to the song. The second half of the album is by no means a disaster; the Clams Casino and Rocky link up for the track ‘Max B’ and the likely slept on ‘Better Things’ are both superb beats and bring back the energy of the first half.
The album ends on an extremely high note with ‘Everyday’ and ‘Back Home’. ‘Everyday’ brings Mark Ronson, Rod Stewart, Miguel and Rocky together all on one track, it may seem like an odd mix but boy does it pay off. The beat is amazing and Miguel sings his ass off on the hook. It’s incredibly catchy and Rocky does his thing on the multiple beats of ‘Everyday’, even ending it with an again, surprisingly melodic singing outro. ‘Back Home’ is one of the best ways Rocky could have ended this album. Rocky does have a southern style to a lot of his sounds and beats, but ‘Back Home’ is as New York sounding as one can get. It’s got a classic NY style boom bap beat, Flacko speaking about his relationship with his hometown and an NY legend Yasiin Bey AKA Mos Def. The main focus of the song are lyrics, the beat is a bit tiresome but this being the 18th track is the time we want to hear what Rocky has to say about his home, not a flashy beat. The song ends with an outro by the late A$AP Yams and boy is it ever fitting.
The album overall is a healthy mix of drug trips and bangers with a little bit of forgivable filler music. Lyrically, A$AP Rocky has come a long way and has honestly done alot to earn the accolades and respect he deserves. While Rocky has been influenced by the south, A.L.L.A feels alot like Rocky returning to his roots of NY. Songs like ‘Back Home’ and ‘Canal St.’ remind Rocky fans that he still reps New York and will still work with artists out of his hometown. An artist can pay homage to other music styles and cultures while still being authentic to their own hometown music culture. While Rocky was not directly involved with the Beast Coast movement, he did work with them and helped put NY back on through the A$AP Mob. A.L.L.A is an accessible album that will make rap fans in general happy, leave southern fans pleased and ultimately leave New Yorkers proud.