A$AP Rocky’s much-anticipated sophomore album Long.Live.A$AP dropped Tuesday, a full year after his debut drew attention from Drake and other high-profile rappers. His second LP doesn’t disappoint. His style has certainly changed—there are even samples of Rocky’s non-rap vocals—and the tracks, especially those featuring Santigold and Florence Welch, are more introspective and more melodic than anything on his debut. There are still plenty of hard-hitting tracks, however. Singles “Goldie” and the “F*ckin Problems” (the ubiquitous 2Chainz performs on the latter) are sure to appeal to fans of Rocky’s old style. His choice of Skrillex’s remix of “Goin’ In” to back his verses on “Wild for the Night” have already raised some eyebrows, but Rocky dominates the insane beat. His versatility on the album is unparalleled, and this track is louder than any hate from rap purists or those who would question Rocky’s talent.
Long.Live.A$AP’s new direction is appealing: its trip-hop aspirations don’t disappoint and Rocky’s codeine-dripping verses flow throughout the entire album. The step further away from A$AP’s New York roots is subtle and sets the album apart. Even with the changes, he never strays from his southern influences: “LVL” and “Hell” both nod to Houston and its notorious syrup-slowed flow.
The album also features a single with Drake, an original supporter of Rocky’s career, as well as collaborations with the likes of L.A’.s Kendrick Lamar, southern rappers 2Chainz and Yelawolf and fellow New York rapper Action Bronson. The song “1Train” best capitalizes on this diverse assortment of talent, with a volley of verses that I haven’t heard since Drake/Kanye/Eminem/Wayne’s “Forever”. The song lives up to the hype. Each rapper kills it in an brutal old-school mix reminiscent of Wu-Tang Clan.
A$AP Rocky hasn’t been afraid to step outside the expected boundaries of the Harlem rap scene. His style has earned him some very dedicated fans, and he’s unexpectedly marketable. He is well-documented on the internet and his memorable style helped to rocket him to fame almost overnight. RCA has banked on the success of Rocky’s image, and he has made good on that investment. He didn’t do this all on his own: he’s had help from hip hop legends who also fully expected to be rewarded when Rocky made it. With his sophomore album finally out, it’s now up to Rocky to make it the rest of the way to the top.