When I first heard ASAP Rocky’s “Peso,” I thought the listening session would be cut short after the line “I be that pretty motherfucker” blasted from my stereo. I was under the mistaken notion that using “pretty-boy” as a term of endearment was just another unfortunate product of the 90s babies, and continued to listen to the rest of the disc. Thankfully, I was born in ’89, just missing the cusp of illegitimacy. Of course, even I’ve temporarily dabbled in the weird, brainless fuckery that the 90s generation has wrought upon modern culture. Who hasn’t? I won’t get into particulars, as they are embarrassing, unnecessary, and extremely damaging to my streetcreditreport.com score. Suffice it to say however that on more than a few occasions, the sounds of Miley Cyrus music has slipped into my daily shower-karaoke routine set-lists, and when I sought the wretched perpetrator of such unforgivable crimes with nothing but a bottle of Axe body wash in my hand, the only culprit I could find was me.
And Miley is not really who I set out to talk about, but while we’re on the subject, Miley, if you’re reading this, please consider me among your future suitors for marriage. No, what I really wanted to talk about was holy subjects. Although Rick Rozay Ross doesn’t forgive, God does, which is why He decided to salvage hip-hop in that bitter time in history when the genre was on the brink of collapse, leaning and rocking its way into an early grave. This was back in the mid-2000s, after Jay pulled an equal parts brilliant and bullshit P.R. stunt by announcing his “retirement,” eventually leading to the “snap” movement. Memories from those dark days are hazy, but I seem to recall “Girl Shake That Laffy Taffy” and “Chicken Noodle Soup With A Soda On The Side” as real things, and not just crazed byproducts of my nightmare hallucinations. The foul, repugnant sounds that the radio airwaves were emitting back then can only be deemed as 100% pure, FDA approved, grade-A grime. The type of grime that Upton Sinclair would be forced to write novels about. How did we get here, I remember thinking during the time. Whatever happened to the days when emcees rapped about blunts and broads, tits and bras, manaj a trois, sex in expensive cars, and could still leave you on the pavement?
So there we were, stranded on a savage boulevard of broken dreams and empty chicken noodle soup cans, all the while making bizarre snap gestures with our hopeless bodies. Viewing these gross missteps in retrospect is hardly healthy for anyone’s mental faculties. In the symbolic pages of hip hop history, it’s better to apply the Reagan doctrine in most instances; grin incessantly, all the while vehemently denying that any sort of evil, monstrous events of this sect ever occurred. Nas thunderously echoed the sentiments of many in 2006 when he released an album based on the concept of hip hop dying. In one of the songs from that classic LP, entitled “Who Killed It,” hip-hop, personified as a woman, concludes the track with the fateful words: “If you really love me, I’ll come back alive.”
Six years later, there are a slew of new artists allowing for positive readings on hip-hop’s vital-signs report. For the most part, ringtones have been replaced by serious raps, and we have people like Currensy, Stalley, J. Cole, Wale, Big KRIT, and Meek Mill, among many others to thank. And one artist that deserves as much praise, if not more, is ASAP Rocky.
Coincidentally, ASAP Rocky’s real name is Rakim. If you are up on your hop history, you will know that Rakim is commonly referred to as the Godfather of Rap, because he was the main reason “hip-hop, a hip to the hip hip hip hop and you don’t stop” evolved into intelligent lyricism, birthing the genre’s current molecular structure which puts heavy emphasis on “sweet 16s,” …and choruses by Trey Songz, but that’s not really Rakim’s fault. But like the rapper who made “Thinking of a master plan,” cultural lexicon, ASAP is one of the forerunners of the movement to bring back respectability to the streets. The acronym ASAP, for most, means “as soon as possible,” but to ASAP Rocky, the word has many meanings. “Always Strive and Prosper,” “Assassinating Snitches and Police,” and “Acronym Symbolizing Any Purpose” are just a few. But for most fans, “ASAP” represents an artist who burst on the scene out of nowhere, and continued to justify his ever-increasing hype with every release.
Most notable among these releases is the ever-getting-play-in-Kellan’s-whip, Live.Love.ASAP, a mixtape which I’m thoroughly at this point in my life is the greatest mixtape I’ve ever heard. Before you go losing your shit, this spot was once held rightfully so by Wayne’s Dedication and Khalifa’s Kush & OJ, but when I stack those classics against ASAP’s, Rocky is the winner. Narrow winner, but winner indeed. With beats mostly by Clams Casino, Rocky gave the critics something to talk about, because every song is fire.
Listening to ASAP Rocky, one comes to the realization pretty quickly that the rapper has been influenced by all sorts of sub genres of hip hop, from the Midwestern spitfire raps popularized by Bone Thugs and Twista, to Houston chopped-and-screwed music popularized by DJ Screw and Swisha House. Although ASAP is from Harlem, his music encompasses the wide variety of delicacies this genre has to offer. Most rappers from New York decide to take the Papoose route, creating mixtapes with mere rhymes over popular beats, providing for some of the greatest sleep-aid medicine known to man. However, with so many influences, ASAP’s voices rings as wholly original in a celebratory paradox.
Despite being pushed back by his record label, Long.Live.ASAP finally hit stores this past week, and what do I think? The shit goes, and is already a strong candidate for album of the year in my book even in January. The title and opening track is a perfect introduction for new fans, as it is a song that justifies all of my reigning endorsements. ASAP brings along a host of skilled new jacks for feature spots, such as Joey Badass, Big KRIT, and Schoolboy Q (and for the record, if you haven’t heard Q’s verse on ASAP’s “Brand New Guy,” off the Live.Love.ASAP mixtape, do so immediately). For an album with standout-upon-standout, I don’t like to name certain tracks, mainly because I do not feel like writing them all down. Most fans of ASAP will already be well-accustomed to “Goldie,” which debuted last year. “Wild For the Night,” a collaboration with Skrillex, is an excellent representation of the eclectic mix of sounds that ASAP appreciates in his music. Also, it must be mentioned in these viral pages that in the radio version of “Fuckin Problems,” 2 Chainz sounds like he’s having a fierce asthma attack or epileptic seizure, but the uncensored version of the song is much better, and devoid of medical maladies.
I should say that anyone familar with ASAP knows that most of his raps, while blazing, are littered with references to materialism. But that’s ok. I never trusted any man that didn’t own at least one pair of Nikes. The only albums I’d even consider spending my hard-earned, debris-sized remnants of on-going 2-week tax pillage and plunder is very few indeed. And once Spotify decides to allow users to sync playlists to devices while escaping that rotten premium route, the number will plunge even deeper. But ASAP Rocky’s newest joint, Long.Live.ASAP is one that I can confidently endorse as worthy of purchase. Long live ASAP.