#9. A$AP Rocky, Live.Love.A$AP

Label: Sony/RCA/Polo Grounds
Released: October 31

Too much of the discussion around A$AP Rocky revolves around his much ballyhooed $3 million record deal (most people fail to mention he actually got two deals, $1.7 million for himself and another $1.3 million for his crew) when the discussion should really be about his music. From the moment A$AP Rocky's "Purple Swag" video dropped, we just had to know more about him. What that song, along with his even more excellent "Pe$o," suggested was that the Harlem rookie jumped into the game as a fully formed artist with a defined sound and unique aesthetic. When his mixtape finally dropped this Halloween, our greatest hopes were proved right.

Rocky may draw inspiration from Houston and borrow flows from Bone Thugs and UGK but that doesn't make him any less of his own artist. Most of the acts he samples are more or less irrelevant in the scene today, and few active rappers actually sound like him. Despite his laid-back persona, he's electric and precise on the microphone. And the beats on the mixtape, mostly courtesy of Clams Casino and ASAP Ty Beats, bang so hard they bring Houston to Harlem. As Rocky says on "Purple Swag," "I'm Texas trill, Texas trill, but in NY we spit it slow."

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