Artist Spotlight: A$AP Rocky

This article is the work of commenter Man with Lute.

A$AP Rocky is fun. That’s why I like him. His music is fun. It exudes fun even when the song also exudes the flavor of too much cough syrup and dehydration. The beats are big and the braggadocio is bigger. He be that “pretty motherfvcker.”

Rocky was born in Harlem, lived in Pennsylvania and North Carolina for certain times then went back to Harlem. His father was involved in drug dealing and arrested, as was Rocky. His brother was shot and his father died in 2013. His mentor and friend A$AP Yams died before the release of his third album, which’s cover now bears Yams signature purple birthmark. The first lyric on LONG.LIVE.A$AP is “I thought I’d probably die in prison.” All this to basically discredit my own interpretation of Rocky being a fun musician. That is what makes Rocky so interesting to me. Most of my time spent listening to him is for fun, but I appreciate his ability to be serious, at least in moments.

Rocky first released LIVE.LOVE.A$AP in 2011. I was not there.

In 2012 he was invited to be on the 2012 XXL Freshman cover. He did not show for the photo shoot, and called everyone on the cover, save Danny Brown “corny as fvck.” Good call Rocky, this cover featured Iggy Azalea, Macklemore to name the worst. I was still not there for this.

LONG.LIVE.A$AP, Rocky’s sophomore album was released in 2013. I vaguely knew of it, but wasn’t into hip hop at this time.

In 2015 he released AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.

I read the AV Club review, liked their descriptions of him, and the commentariats, and rushed to DatPiff for LIVE.LOVE.

I loved it. I needed something almost mindlessly fun, but with enough smart braggadocio to keep me hooked. Rocky was that. I wasn’t hooked on specific songs, but the vibe of the album fit me so perfectly. “Bass” and “Peso” are obvious standouts. Also, “Get Lit” is great because its chorus is just the title repeated. I love it

Then, a month or so after A.L.L.A. was released I was able to get it. It was revelatory for me. I’m not sure why. It isn’t my favorite now, nor was it then. But I loved it. I think there may have been a whole first impression thing since “Holy Ghost” critiques of the church, and I am here for that shit. A.L.L.A. features a lot more variance though. This can seen especially in “L$D” an ode to “love sex dreams” … and the drug. It’s basically a heavy handed version of McCartney’s “Got to Get You Into My Life” Rocky continues his bulky braggadocio by making a song called “Excuse Me.” Rocky is a true gentleman. This is followed by “JD” and “Lord Pretty Flacko Joyde 2” Both fun tracks. “M$” is my favorite. When I listened to this album obsessively I was also depressed, so Rocky saying “I ain’t myself/sometimes I’d rather hang myself” weirdly meant something to me. I wasn’t suicidal, but I knew the emotions it referenced, especially when the songs refrain was “All I want to do is chill and get shaded” I am a weird listener.

Then I eventually got to LONG.LIVE. Thank god. It’s his best, and my favorite album. The eponymous song and subsequent “Goldie” show a greater lyrical talent, and great beats. “F**kin’ Problems” is eternally great and dumb. Kendrick kills, and then a song later he gets to kill again on “1Train” which features K Dot, Joey Badass, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson, and Big K.R.I.T. It’s a godsend. A simplistic beat keeps a diverse group of rappers similar enough to be contained on one track. This track shows arguably Rocky’s best feature. Curation. He selects great beats, and especially in this album’s case, gets great features.

Rocky Article/Interview from Village Voice that I like and used as partial research…

Also, Rocky was great in Dope

And he really is that pretty motherfvcker