THE TOPIC: ASAP ROCKY'S LIVE.LOVE.ASAP
THE CONSENSUS PANEL: Kathy Iandoli (HipHopDX.com), Andrew Barber (FakeShoreDrive.com), Confusion (PigeonsAndPlanes.com), Roger Guerrilla, (TheMaskedGorilla), Karen Civil (KarenCivil.com), Combat Jack (Daily Mathematics), Nathan Slavik (DJBooth), Paul Cantor (PaulJCantor), Modi (DCtoBC/The Great Progression), and Insanul Ahmed (Complex).
Peep the mini reviews below...
Panelist: Kathy Idoli, HipHopDX
Reaction: In this era of Hip-Hop, it’s hard to distinguish which rappers will have a future beyond two mixtapes. I had my doubts about A$AP Rocky, because I don’t trust rappers with dollar signs in their names (unless you’re Too $hort). A$AP’s been frequenting the Hulkshare circuit for a second, popping up here and there on some of his peers’ web cuts. It was hard to gauge his longevity within the bars he spit in those cameos. LiveLoveA$AP was the true test, and he succeeded with flying colors. While this new age of Tumblr Rap can be grating at times, A$AP Rocky has a keen understanding of how to accurately slide genre-bending sounds into the Hip-Hop landscape (peep "Peso" and "Wassup"). That and he sounds like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s cousin ("Trilla"). The abstractness of LiveLoveA$AP is no doubt due in part to Clams Casino’s (Nutley, NJ stand up) swirly psychotropic production. Other rappers who have attempted this new school formula ran the risk of being bludgeoned to death by Hip-Hop purists. A$AP struck a balance by rhyming like a parking lot pimp over warped beats. The hood gon’ love it, the hipsters gon’ love it. Is that worth $3 mill? Sure, why not.
Panelist: Andrew Barber, FakeShoreDrive
Reaction: I wouldn’t wish ASAP Rocky’s buzz upon any new artist. With the amount of hype currently sorrounding the young Harlem emcee, he’s pretty much destined to fail. There’s really no place to go but down--unless the music is absolutely undeniable--which this isn’t. Not yet at least.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s some good music on here, but I don’t think it’s the kind that justifies giving any artist $3 mill in this climate. And I hate to beat that dead horse.
While the tape teeters on swag rap, I can appreciate any project that evokes feelings of say DJ Screw’s 3 ‘N The Morning or Fat Pat’s Ghetto Dreams.
Bloggers are ruthless, unforgiving and enjoy building up new artists only to tear them down. I hope that doesn’t happen to Rocky as he appears to have a bright future ahead of him. But the buzz stick may have hit him a little too hard too fast. So Far Gone this is not.
Panelist: Jacob Moore, Pigeons & Planes
Reaction: ASAP Rocky isn’t doing anything new. Whether it’s the Houston sound or that Bone Thugs flow, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that everything he’s doing has been done before. If you pick out any single element of this mixtape, you can most likely tie it directly to a piece of hip-hop history.
Put them all together, though? That's a different story. The key to ASAP’s appeal lies in his style and his ability to pick out a bunch of cool things, throw them in the melting pot, and cook up something that feels fresh.
With as much hype as he’s getting right now, there’s bound to be a backlash from non-believers and a parade of on-boarders. This tape is nowhere near a masterpiece, but it does just enough to establish what ASAP’s about and to give enough reason for the believers to keep believing.
At times, Live.Love.A$AP feels a bit uninspired, but when he’s in the zone—especially over that Clams Casino production—A$AP really makes you think that his rap-without-borders is the future. It’s hard to listen to “Palace,” and not think, “Damn, he’s on to something.”
Panelist: Karen Civil, Karen Civil
Reaction: Mood music. That's exactly what Live.Love.A$AP is in a nutshell. Hopefully Joe Budden doesn't get too upset with the description, but that's essentially what we have here. The only difference is where Joey's form tackles deep, personal and often times depressing life experiences, ASAP picks dope ass beats, gets real high and vibes the hell out. Labeling the kid the next King Of New York may be off base and too lofty of an expectation entirely too soon, but he does manage to stick to what he knows and do it well. It's not your normal sounding "New York album" and that may be its best quality. He's not worried about bringing the area's music scene back to the pinnacle. He's just doing him and he's reaching out to people from all over to help accomplish his goal (notice the DJ Burn One production). I respect that and while the tape can get repetitive at times, Rocky manages to keep it an easy listen for the most part (much needed during a week of a billion mixtape releases).
Panelist: Roger Guerrilla, TheMaskedGorilla
Reaction: ASAP Rocky’s ‘Live.Love.A$AP’ was one of the most anticipated projects of 2011. Three seconds into the first song of the tape, “Palace,” Clams Casino seems to be making sure the project lives up to the hype with a beat reminiscent of “O Fortuna.” (You know, that song that’s in the start of the first Jackass movie.) With “Palace” leading into three songs we have already heard, followed by “Brand New Guy”, which includes a perfect feature from ScHoolboy Q, the project seems to be effortlessly matching expectations. That’s until the next song comes on, “Purple Swag: Chapter 2”: the remix version to Rocky’s breakout hit.
Rocky’s friends bring less to ‘Live.Love.A$AP’ than Taco and Jasper Dolphin bring to any Tyler, The Creator project, which until now seemed nearly impossible to accomplish. “Purple Swag: Chapter 2” leads into a number of terrible features from Rocky’s friends, painfully disrupting the project’s flow. The tape gets back on track with “Houston Old Head”, but at that point it’s already too late.
Rocky’s desire to put his friends on instead of creating a solid, cohesive project has the listener skipping throughout the entire middle of the tape, leaving ‘Live.Love.A$AP’ with very little playback value. The hype surrounding ASAP Rocky is undoubtedly real, unfortunately his debut effort fails to fully meet those expectations.