June 3, 2015 Quake

Summer’s Here: A$AP Rocky’s A.L.L.A Review


A$AP Rocky’s sophomore album—At.Long.Last.A$AP—is the equivalent of a rainy, summer day. There’s been a lot of impediments during the making of the album, especially with the passing of A$AP founder/Rocky’s best friend, A$AP Yams; but even that hasn’t stopped the Harlem rapper from delivering the best work possible.

Sincere detachment from creating a banger-oriented album, helped Rocky excel without relying on the regular sounds of today. He made a pleasurable, personifying album, that suffers from a few minor flaws. It’s raining, but it’s still summer.

Ever since his triumphant come-up, Rocky’s proved his hit-making abilities can keep him relevant for a long time. However, he didn’t quite have a thoroughly defined character at the time. He was just a stylish, handsome dude, with a (somewhat) bland personality. Up until A.L.L.A, there were only a handful of songs that allowed the listener to dig deeper inside A$AP Rocky’s POV. But as A.L.L.A begins, he provides an exclusively earnest introduction to his world. It’s exactly what his career had lacked.

Holy Ghost—the intro to A.L.L.A—resembles earlier JAY Z tracks. It’s skillful rapping about Rocky’s reasons behind distancing from religion, bringing vibes similar to Hov’s Dynasty Intro. The confidence he approaches A.L.L.A with, is noticeably at a higher level than before. On Holy Ghost, he assertively raps “bow your heads the most high’s around,” and this isn’t the first time Rocky’s inserted narcissistic boasting in his lines. Nevertheless, as a result of the finer rapping, all the braggadocio now sounds accurate. Therefore, rightfully excused.

“Your favorite rapper’s corpses couldn’t match up my importance. My mind is out in orbits; plus my ego got endorsements.” – A$AP Rocky, Canal St.

On the technical aspect of rapping, A.L.L.A stands unparallelled in Rocky’s catalogue. Seemingly taking a page from Eminem’s writing, he puts a lot of emphasis on rhyming nearly every word on tracks like Canal St, Max B, Pharsyde or Dreams, to name a few. Besides all the themed content, this masterly way of writing presents itself as art that lives in its own dimension, yet is still focused on making sense. While this rhyme scheme may be used amongst many other rappers, a bulk of them fail at being logical upon using such method. Saying fatuous stuff only to make it rhyme does not occur in Rocky’s situation. He juggles wittiness, and remains concentrated on his intent.

Skilled raps aren’t A.L.L.A’s highlight, though. Those brief, fervent sparkles of sincerity are. He’s very aware of the things happening in his life, and he makes it clear through this project.
There’s beauty in expressing yourself through lyrics in order to form a pure character, like Rocky did. It’s rather striking when he says “life is just a whole bunch of vices.” Or when he admits I think my pride died in me,” further stating “somewhere inside of me it’s gotta be a whole ‘nother side of me.” These signs of honesty serve as a raw, unfiltered welcoming to A$AP Rocky’s life. Amidst all this, there is also an attempt of showing he’s informed about the racial chaos that’s going on, but it comes off highly unimaginative.

“I just had an epic dream like Dr. King. Police brutality was on my TV screen.” – A$AP Rocky, Dreams

It may go unnoticed anyways, since it’s not really a suitable topic for him. Plus, there’s imperfections that damage A.L.L.A more than this one line.
Everyday, for example. With a lineup full of star singers, Rocky creates a radio-friendly song that even the radio wouldn’t want to play. Everyday turns the mellow, rainy weather into an ugly, thunderous hurricane. Then, it’s songs like Wavybone & West Side Highway which cause no harm but sound like they’d fit the guests albums better. (And—in an era where concise albums are the most praised trend—make A.L.L.A too long.)

Mostly produced by Dangermouse, the entire album’s instrumentals follow an identical path. There’s a sort of psychedelia which has inspired Rocky ever since Yams’ death, accompanies him throughout the LP. Except the aggressive M’$, and LPFJ2 the instrumentals are mainly soothing. Perhaps not as innovative as To Pimp A Butterfly, or Cherry Bomb — A.L.L.A’s beats provide more of a sentimental feeling. Complementing Rocky, whilst simultaneously ‘speaking’ in a matching tone with him. This style of chilled out, rich instrumentation—akin to the songwriting—stands out, and blends in at the same damn time. Word to Future, who has an excellent appearance on Fine Whine as well.

A.L.L.A is original and divergent, albeit not as challenging as some of its contenders from 2015. Nonetheless, it maintains a very unique style as a modern album.
Sometimes, when a rainy day is over, you’ll realize it wasn’t bad after all. In fact, if you think deeply enough, you’ll probably notice it was better than most typical hot weather days. At.Long.Last.A$AP is essentially that. Confident, genuine & jiggy — Yams would’ve surely been the proudest.

Buy the album here. Written by Dennis B.