PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

ASAP Rocky: LiveLoveA$AP

Welcome to the most enjoyable, easy-access hip-hop album you're likely to come across this year.


ASAP Rocky

LiveLoveA$AP

Label: Self-released
US Release Date: 2011-10-31
UK Release Date: 2011-10-31
Amazon
iTunes

With the release of LiveLoveA$AP, the positive influence of the internet on the next generation of hip-hop has finally taken form in a way much more accessible than with Lil' B. So, allow me a bit of token regional exploration before we get to the actual meat of what makes this mixtape so enjoyable. ASAP Rocky is, already famously, a descendant of Harlem and all that entails (Dipset!). His main producer to this point, Clams Casino, hails from the college life of northern New Jersey. Clams' major claims to fame have come via production work for the aforementioned Lil' B and fellow Californians Main Attrakionz. And yet this album opens with a track, "Palace", whose most captivating moment finds Rocky rapping like a forgotten member of Three 6 Mafia's horrorcore era (I vote Koopsta Knicca), and quickly makes inroads on a soundscape that sounds way more Swishahouse circa-1995 than New York, or Jersey, or California circa-anytime. Well, besides the ethereal "Wassup" that brings to mind previous Clams Casino masterstrokes like Lil' B's "I'm God".

The point is, if you care at all about drawing lines in the sand with your hip-hop, LiveLoveA$AP offers a lot of contradiction to your hypothesis. Because in a world where certified technician-style MCs like Jadakiss and Fabolous have spent the past four-ish years trying to bring New York to the sounds of Atlanta, ASAP, Clams and the rest of the people involved with this realized bringing anything anywhere doesn't matter. What's important is that your music feels natural and your persona free of shoehorning. What's absolutely crucial is that you aren't chasing anything, particularly as a rap artist. Granted, it's easier to fake your way to authenticity in hip-hop these days - just ask Rick Ross. But then ask yourselves whether you'd find Ross so easy to deny if the truth didn't deny him for you, or if he's actually quite believable as a decadent Freeway-Ross-that-wasn't-caught behind the veil of Oz. If you come to the conclusion that fantasy is oftentimes more desirable in music than reality, you're ready to focus on what makes ASAP Rocky such a great addition to the scene: his music is awesome.

"Purple Swag" was inescapable in its previous form as a two-minute YouTube video, but with added features from fellow Three 6 fanatics SpaceghostPurrp (from Florida of all places, if you're still trying to connect dots) and ASAP Nast, it becomes even more of an anthem for lazy summer Sundays than previously. Elsewhere, "Houston Old Head" is a slow rolling ode to the more earthy knowledge bases of past-generation Southern black males. "Leaf" flirts with the upper echelon of 2011's odes to dope smokin', while "Get Lit" and "Roll One Up" act as perfect smoking buddies and, well, "Bass" lives up to its given name. For some, a lack of so-called substance could work against LiveLoveA$AP. Rocky's definitely a young kid talking about the things that please him and little else, which could effectively turn away listeners that hope their hip-hop can take a little timeout from enjoying life every so often to complain about some stuff. But it's this writer's opinion that "realness" doesn't deserve to be confined to ghetto street corners and hyperreal town hall meetings. Sometimes, it can be as simple as sitting in a freshly waxed car, windows dropped, speakers on blast, the world, by all accounts, your oyster. That's how Rocky and his fellow ASAPs (Always Strive and Prosperers) sees it on "Trilla", and how LiveLoveA$AP allows us to look at the world.

Sometimes that's all anyone should want to ask for. LiveLoveA$AP is the sort of album that clocks in at nearly an hour but feels like it's over in half that. It's hard to believe the airy, saxophone-drenched "Keep It G" is our halfway point, or that the slightly darker, inward-looking tones of "Demons" and "Out of This World" are really where we have to part ways. Luckily, that's what repeat settings were designed for, something I've been abusing a bit lately. There are more impressive rapping performances in 2011, from Kendrick Lamar to Jay-Z to Big K.R.I.T. And there are probably a few more notable production jobs as well. Quite frankly, it's hard to argue that LiveLoveA$AP does any one thing better than its closest peers. But by its powers combined, Rocky's debut free album/mixtape/whatever turns in the equivalent of a top-of-his-game Scottie Pippen performance. It looks effortless, and possibly insignificant in comparison to the much more obvious greatness of his closest peer... until you check the stat sheet and realize it adds up to something pretty amazing in its own right.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.