The mixtape turned debut album from A$AP Ferg has been a long time coming. While it’s somewhat unusual nowadays to see a rapper release a debut album without first releasing a mixtape, Ferg has been gaining recognition mainly through features, and by mere association with fellow rapper A$AP Rocky, whose debut album leapt to the top of the billboard charts in January of this year. While Ferg’s album is unlikely to have the same success, with its darker, grittier and more acquired sound, it is a debut album to be proud of.
There’s a definite theme that runs through Trap Lord. You feel, as you listen to the album, that you’re accompanying Ferg on his own journey through the mean streets of Harlem, accompanied by liquor, women, drugs and sex. However, true to the saying, too much of a good thing can be bad, and the negative effects of his ‘trap lifestyle’ are laid out in the hard hitting track ‘‘Cocaine Castle’‘. The problem is this theme has been done to death in hip-hop, and it’s rare that it really works and doesn’t become monotonous and boring. To some extent it’s overdone in Trap Lord, or rather, isn’t delivered in such a way that keeps it exciting and original.
It’s refreshing to see limited guest appearances from other rappers. There can be a tendency, especially when part of a hip hop group, to overload an album with feature verses that rarely enhance the sound, and often detract from the main artist. The only place where this has possibly happened is with the remix of ‘‘Work’‘, featuring A$AP Rocky, French Montana, Trinidad James and Schoolboy Q. ‘‘Work’‘, Ferg’s debut single which featured on the A$AP Mob mixtape Lords Never Worry was a song that showcased Ferg as an up and coming rapper with skill and promise and this same feeling was smothered by all the other artists on the track. Elsewhere Bone Thugz-n-Harmony and Wacka Flocka Flame deliver solid verses on ‘‘Lord’’ and ‘‘Murda Something’’ respectively.
A$AP Ferg has followed in A$AP Rocky’s footsteps, in delivering an album which has superb production but lyrically doesn’t quite reach the same heights. The production on ‘‘Dump Dump’’ is excellent but the chorus of ‘I fucked your bitch n***a, I fucked your bitch / She sucked my dick n***a, she sucked my dick’ is a real let down. It’s a shame because there are moments of real promise throughout the album, such as the dark and enlightening track ‘‘Cocaine Castle’‘, but ultimately it feels like the production acts as a crutch, pulling up the weak lyrical moments and covering them up.
There are many characters in hip-hop right now who are getting people excited and allowing people to feel a renewed buzz and love for the genre. Ferg may not have produced an album as flawless as Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid Madd City, or even Rocky’s Long Live A$AP, but he has a very different and distinct flow and style which will allow him to fill a niche that’s been empty for far too long. Trap Lord won’t be for everyone, but it’s worth more than one listen, because beneath the trap beats and somewhat cliché storyline is a debut album that’s exciting, different, and worth a spot on the shelf.
// Notes from the Road
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