Label: ASAP Worldwide, Polo Grounds, RCA
A$AP Rocky made his mark by melding his Uptown roots with Houston's syrupy Screw tradition. But what we got from Long.Live.A$AP, his first studio album, was a hazier version of his hybrid vision. It's as if the album fell down the rabbit hole. A very dark rabbit hole. (Like one from Watership Down.) Even its title-track opener indicates a sort of immersive apocalypse The stretch of "PMW (All I Really Need)" through "Pain" is dark ethereality. Even the Hit-Boy-produced "Goldie" is has a grey cloud looming over it. Then there's "Suddenly," the crackling conclusion with its watery sample of the Cytations and muted bass.
It rounds a moody body of work appropriate for getting high by candlelight, a thing that prepares you for the incredible "jiggy goth" album Rocky's compatriot A$AP Ferg released later in the year. Oddly, inside the swirl of ambient psychedelia is a hit-filled center. Rocky gets a bro-thumper collaborating with Skrillex on "Wild For the Night" and makes the case to keep the posse alive with "1 Train." And the OVO must be kicking themselves for giving away "Fuckin' Problems"—even if Drake outshines his host before Kendrick eats everyone's lunch with that Bernie Mac reference. —Claire Lobenfeld