A$AP Rocky, 26 year old rapper from Harlem, New York, has just released his second album, At. Long. Last. A$AP or ALLA, a week earlier that he originally announced and after a two year gap since the release of his chart topping first record Long. Live. A$AP. He is the leader of the A$AP Mob, a group of likeminded musicians who have produced talent such as A$AP Ferg. The mobs co-founder and main producer for Rocky, A$AP Yams, was found dead earlier this year. His death has been sighted as one of the biggest influences behind the album.
As a whole the album seems to be taking Rocky in a new direction. He shows off a lot more musical talent than in his first album and the overall feel is a lot more professional with a better sound all round. His beats are generally a lot slower instead of the fast trap beats on Long. Live. A$AP. and his lyrics a lot more defined. Both of Rocky’s albums have been full of high-profile collaborators, with his first release featuring Lana Del Ray and long time friend Rihanna, and ALLA featuring Kanye West and Mos Def, to names just two.
One of my favourite track is Electric Body, featuring Schoolboy Q. The rappers’ styles really complement each other and the beat they have produced together is on point; certainly a highlight of the album. Another of my favourite songs is Everyday, featuring Rod Stewart, Miguel, and Mark Ronson. How A$AP convinced that group of artists to make a song together I shall never know, but this unlikely group of artist has found a sound that fits them all and works incredibly well as a song. Personally I think as soon as Mark Ronson is involved in something you know it’s going to be good – that man is a musical magician and Everyday is evidence of this. The album’s opener, Holy Ghost, which has sampled a lead guitar track from the country rock band Lucero, is one of the best songs on the album; it again combines unlikely genres and works well.
Unfortunately, apart from the songs mentioned previously this album isn’t that great. Rocky is clearly trying something new and taking a more psychedelic approach to his music but it isn’t working that well. Jukebox Joints with Kanye just doesn’t work, with random breaks and cuts and a horrible brass backing for Mr West’s verse; I would certainly expect better from both of the artists involved.
Personally I much preferred Rocky’s first album and, apart from a small selection of songs, this album isn’t for me. If you liked his first released but maybe would appreciate some slower drums and trippy synths then this could be right up your street. Rocky’s voice is starting to show it’s limitations and the vast amount of features on this album maybe highlights this. Over the last two years Rocky has been concentrating on a lot of other projects and touring constantly, both on his own headline tours and as the support for Rihanna. He plays a major role in the film Drop and also has been focusing very publically on fashion. I wouldn’t say the album has necessarily been majorly affected by this, but could have perhaps benefitted slightly without all the distractions.