After crashing onto the scene with a mixtape in 2011 and his major label debut in 2013, New York MC A$AP Rocky returns with his sophomore album, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP. While A$AP Rocky isn’t necessarily the deepest MC in the game (particularly referencing girls), on his latest album, at times the thoughts are deeper, the music more eclectic, and A$AP more of an idiosyncrasy within the rap game.
“Holy Ghost” featuring Joe Fox kicks off the album in secular fashion – sacrilegious by all mean. Despite it’s title, A$AP Rocky denounces religion (“They ask me why I don’t go to church no more / cause church is the new club and wine is the new bub”), characterizing clergy and church officers as hypocrites essentially (“The pastor had a thing for designer glasses…the ushers keep skimmin’ the collection baskets”). Ultimately, Rocky is the latest MC to assert ‘god’ status.
“Canal St.” featuring Bones is named after the famed street in Manhattan that’s incredibly busy, noted for its shopping opportunities, with many bootleg products. Rocky interestingly likens promotion of himself in rap to hustling in the second verse: “Rap game like the crack game, swear it’s all the same, hustle / whippin’ soda through the pot, watch it bubble…sellin’ coca on the charts, watch it double.”
“Fine Whine” featuring Future, Joe Fox & M.I.A. is nothing short of ‘druggy.’ From the lethargic, enigmatic production for the majority, A$AP’s lower-pitched vocals, to a killer reference to British pop-soul musician Duffy (“Wasted money on syrup and honey, she think she Duffy”), “Fine Whine” is definitely captivating.
If the “Fine Whine” weren’t enough, Rocky tops it with “L$D,” a play on both the psychedelic drug and “Love, sex, dreams” which the acronym technically stands for. Rocky sings here, which adds to the spaced-out vibe that truly serves as a something of a ‘tone poem’ depiction of the effects of the drug of both LSD and being infatuated.
Rocky returns to spitting on “Excuse Me,” which brilliantly samples legendary R&B/doo-wop collective The Platters. Rocky rides the beat like a champ, easily delivering one of AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP’s gems. If “L$D” was too outside the box, “Excuse Me” combines its more nonlinear aspects with sharp rhymes. The brief, but malicious “JD” follows, finding Rocky putting himself on a pedestal. Keeping things short and sweet, A$AP Rocky still means business on “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2)”: “I’m a Lord motherf***er, better greet him if you see him.”
“Electric Body” is certainly shallow in regards to its content – strippers. One of the more troubling references comes from guest Schoolboy Q: “I could whip that b**ch like Ike…” “Jukebox Joints” is more impressive, thanks to stronger rhymes from A$AP Rocky, not to mention the soulful, sampled production. Kanye West, who produced the standout, appears at the tail end of the song, receiving the best portion of the backdrop. Was it a great verse? No, but don’t let West’s so-so performance ‘kill the vibe.’
“Max B” is chocked full of notable things. One is the cost and the hardship of the street life, whether it be incarceration, death, and/or the possibility of never receiving a ‘second chance’ because of poor actions. “Max B” takes its name after the rapper of the same name who is sentenced to 75 years in prison for a multitude of offenses. Interestingly, “Max B” seems to reference A$AP Rocky’s own transformation and references his late brother.
On the acidic “Pharysyde,” its no surprise after hearing it that A$AP Rocky drops a trippy line like “it’s the irony how LSD inspired me to reach the high in me / used to never give a damn now I don’t give a f**k entirely.” “Wavybone” features Juicy J and UGK – and yes by UGK that includes both Bun B and the late Pimp C. Juicy J handles the simple but infectious hit, not to mention his own, explicit verse, highlighted by lyrics like “Your girlfriend a groupie like Trident she wanna chew me.”
“West Side Highway” is synonymous with sex, while “Better Things” definitely amps up misogyny from the MC’s perspective as he talks some serious, un-gentlemanlike trash. “M’$” features some of the best production work of AT.LONG.LAST. A$AP. Rocky covers his bases here: hooking up, the late A$AP Yams, and arguably most of all the “M’$” or money. As the Wu-Tang Clan one rapped, “Cash rules everything around me.” Lil Wayne affirms the importance of money and sex: “Money talk and dogs bark” and later, “But girl I’mma treat you like cake til I get a sweet tooth toothache.”
Following interlude “Dreams,” Penultimate smash “Everyday” arrives in all its glory, featuring Rod Stewart, Miguel, and Mark Ronson. Produced by Ronson, a sampled Rod Stewart and a soulful Miguel decorate “Everyday” with a fantastic hook. Keeping things compelling, there is an unpredictability about “Everyday” exemplified by a switch up prior to A$AP Rocky’s second verse. “Back Home” concludes AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP, featuring A$AP Yams and Yasiin Bay.
All in all, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP is another compelling album from A$AP Rocky. The effort is a lot to take in, but shows some versatility on A$AP Rocky’s part. This is an album that requires more than one listen to grasp everything, which may wear on some listener’s patience. Still, if you give it a chance, there are plenty of goods to takeaway from AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP
Favorites: “Holy Ghost,” “L$D,” “Excuse Me,” “Jukebox Joints,” “Wavybone,” “M’$,” “Everyday”