The first time you saw Rocky bust out of the bodega in "Peso," feeling prettier than that West Side Story girl, you knew he was a star. But could he deliver? There's something to be said for a project that survived the ephemeral nature of Tumblr rap—and Live. Love. A$AP was one of the few that did. It was equal parts Clams Casinoed-out shameless fashion raps, new new Harlem exposition, and Houston worship.
Despite its eclecticism, the mixtape had a very particular sound that carried throughout. You could tell it was a calculated aesthetic vision that Rocky had, he wanted to make sure you knew about everything he was fucking with. It was easy to listen to all the way through, not just as background party music, but also as persona-driven headphones-in music.
Most likely, this tape will stand as sort of a time capsule for the era, albeit a short-lived one, that surrounded it. As much as people want to dismiss Rocky as a fad, subject to the same transitory aspects as fashion, Live. Love. A$AP was more than just some jiggy shit.
The production roster wasn't superstar-stacked yet, allowing Ty Beats to contribute some of the year's tight-looped earworms ("Purple Swag" and "Peso"), that pretty much catapulted Rocky in the first place. It may have been a combination of luck, circumstance, hunger, and all-at-once release of potential, but this mixtape hit the mark of its time. Rocky took the buzz that his first two songs had gave him and came through with what everyone had wanted from him—a bunch of good songs that made sense together. — Alexander Gleckman