A$AP Rocky excels creatively, creating perfect “mood music” on his sophomore set
It’s been a two-year wait for A$AP Rocky’s follow-up to his debut LP. You could say it was an almost four-year wait as this project sounds like what his acclaimed mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP, may have progressed into. Mood-fuelled sophomore set, At.Long.Last.A$AP, sees Rocky’s endeavour to keep complete creative control of his music take him to new heights, coupled with his refreshingly focussed passion for his craft.
Long.Live.A$AP, at times, saw Rocky overshadowed by featured artists and I’m not counting the all-star 1-Train; he shone on tracks LVL, Phoenix, Angels, Ghetto Symphony and Jodye. He is the unmissable main event this time around, with strong support from London artist Joe Fox, whose vocals are on five of At.Long.Last.A$AP‘s 18 tracks. There are also a host of other features including Miguel, Rod Stewart plus Mark Ronson production on previously released Everyday and a hot verse from Lil Wayne on previously released track, M’s.
Holy Ghost featuring Joe Fox makes a big impact as the LP’s opening track – preparing the listener for a cohesive myriad of themes and sounds on a trippy musical journey, culminating with Back Home featuring “Pretty Flac
ko Senior” Yasiin Bey and a spoken outro by the late A$AP Yams. Back Home is especially enjoyable with its cypher-esque feel.
Canal St. featuring Bones is a repeat listen as Rocky reminds us of his story, giving himself a bit of room to brag; delivering lyrics like “I remember when I got a 100 for recordings/ now the sum of my performances, just put me on the Forbes list/ fuck jiggy, I’m flawless, fuck pretty, I’m gorgeous/ your favourite rappers corpses couldn’t match up my importance,” over a perfectly produced, dark and almost haunting beat.
Joe Fox, Future and M.I.A. feature on Fine Whine which interchanges between a spaced out, slow instrumental that kicks into an almost tribal vibe. It may have been nice to hear more from M.I.A. but this isn’t instantly apparent, initially I felt the feature was so natural as her distinctive voice came in as the drums picked up – sounding like a close reflection of her own unique musical style. This is something Rocky does consistently well throughout At.Long.Last.A$AP, making feature artists sound so at home, within his own unique sound.
The siren-fuelled Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2) is a standout highlight, serving as the album’s lead single and a great follow-up to unofficial interlude, JD – which I can’t help but wish was a little longer. The melancholy and reflective Pharsyde featuring Joe Fox is another of the album’s highlights. I had originally thought the track borrowed sample(s) from Red Hot Chilli Peppers and although it doesn’t, it was produced by Danger Mouse who has produced for them aswell as the Gorillaz.
A$AP Rocky teams up with ScHoolboy Q again, on Electric Body, with themes reminiscent of PMW (All I Really Need) from Long.Live.A$AP. Electric Body is one of At.Long.Last.A$AP‘s more uptempo moments with a bouncy beat that drifts off into a drawling outro – which works so well when you consider the similar styles of Rocky and Q, who have previously collaborated on a number of songs.
On the subject of PMW (All I Really Need), on that track A$AP Rocky rapped “…I’m taking her back/ to the house just to bust in her mouth and I’m kicking her out”. Which leads me to wonder if he was referring to Rita Ora back then, as he somewhat distastefully outs the singer about her tendency to talk too much and a sexual encounter on At.Long.Last.A$AP track – Better Things – later stating “animosity is better off your chest, yes”.
Wavybone is a nod to one of A$AP Rocky’s well-documeted musical influences and features Juicy J and UGK. A$AP Rocky is one to always pay homage and acknowledge his influences, something he alludes to on Excuse Me – “I pay very close attention, after that I pay my dues” – the track which he previewed in the recently released video for trippy track, L$D.
Joe Fox described the album as “psychedelic, forward-thinking” and a “masterpiece” and to a large extent I agree. Rocky is confident creatively, having played a massive part in the production process. It may come across as a drug-fuelled album, which is understandable with Pharsyde lyrics like “very trippy pages in my diary/ it’s the irony how LSD inspired me to reach the high in me.” It may not be for everyone but as Rocky states on Excuse Me “I guess the new me is just gon’ take some getting’ used to”.
The creative heights that Rocky has explored make for a very diverse album, with songs taking trips into different sounds at unexpected turns. The majority of the album is excellent and even the very few songs I am not so keen on each have alluring sections, plus Joe Fox’s vocals are a refreshing addition to At.Long.Last.A$AP especially on tracks like Pharsyde and banger, Max B.