By Jean-Paul Escobar
A$AP Rocky has been able to translate his well-dressed, Pretty Flacko, purple swag identity to mainstream audiences and become one of pop culture’s biggest rock stars.
Listeners who are still on the fence about the Harlem, New York native’s previous records or for his charm and jiggy-ness should listen to his second studio album, “At. Long. Last. A$AP.” The album will definitely prompt listeners’ attention to one of the most influential contemporary hip-hop artists of all time.
A$AP Rocky has influenced the modern sound and culture of hip-hop since his debut in 2011 with singles “Purple Swag” and “Peso.” The success of these two songs would not be as big if there were no visuals to accompany the tracks. Around this time, many artists began presenting singles that were meticulously arranged with strong visuals. This sparked an organic wave of Internet releases that made it possible for independent artists to reach mainstream success. This is how Rocky reached stardom and pop culture icon status and became a rock star among the hip-hop community.
Regardless of his impact on hip-hop, Rocky is recognized for his two most popular singles from his catalog: “Problems” and “Wild for the Night.” This time around, “At. Long. Last. A$AP” has no crossover hits, no jarring awkward songs that do not fit and no compromises, which shows his growth as a musician. It was integral for Rocky to distance himself from the mainstream so that he could deliver his art and story as truthfully as possible. A$AP Rocky is one of the most important, relevant, and contemporary artists, and “At. Long. Last. A$AP” is one of the best hip-hop albums of 2015.
“At. Long. Last. A$AP” has a list of eclectic appearances ranging from big names such as Kanye West, Lil Wayne and Rod Stewart to frequent collaborators such as Schoolboy Q and Joe Fox. Because of this, A$AP Rocky dubs this album as genre-crossing and experimental. Although some of these collaborations are difficult to visualize, each song is carefully weaved. All features are perfect, and Rocky delivers a carefully put-together, aesthetically pleasing package with amazing visuals.
A$AP Rocky has previously been critiqued on the lack of substance in his material, but “At. Long. Last. A$AP” shows no signs of a lack of value in content. The opening track, “Holy Ghost,” can be viewed as a religious confessional for the artist, showing his point of view of the way his peers serve and believe in God.
Just before A$AP Rocky released “At. Long. Last. A$AP,” he had to endure the grief of the passing of his business partner, A$AP Yams, who was the co-founder of A$AP MOB and A$AP Rocky’s best friend. The effect it had on Rocky is definitely present throughout the album but especially evident in the closing song “Back Home.” The track served as a tribute to A$AP Yams. Rocky came with the real: “Okay, let’s get past all the swag trapping and fashion talking.”
These are 18 tracks of cohesive, psychedelic, confidence-boosting escapism that has A$AP fans celebrating and new fans captivated. All in all, this entire album is definitely one of 2015’s best.
“At. Long. Last. A$AP” is on iTunes and in stores now.
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