A$AP Rocky did his first live show in Sweden at last year’s Way Out West music festival in Göteborg. I was there and witnessed the some serious love he got that afternoon, clearly surprised his already classic mixtape LiveLoveA$AP, was so big in this northern outpost. He was on fire that afternoon, constantly running back and forth, even jumping into the crowd at one point. I remember spending most of the show with a stupid smile on my face, seeing all these Swedish teenagers who knew the words to his songs.
It was a heavy experience, the beats were faster, harder and louder, the breaks bigger. A$AP occasionally screamed more than rapped, but that’s not really uncommon at rap concerts. Still, when his debut album was finally released in January, after a series of delays, I forgot to listen. Until now.
On LongLiveA$AP he cements his place as one of the driving forces behind the mini-revolution of cross-over underground mix-tape-rappers, who together together with Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q are going mainstream. His song Goldie was huge already last summer, as this video from his Way Out West concert clearly shows. On the new album slow songs like Suddenly and Phoenix, also illustrate that he’s quite the poet as well when he wants to:
Painting vivid pictures, call me BasquiAnnotateat Picasso
Capo Head Hancho, now my following’s colossal
Ain’t no boxer, Pacquiao, but got the chopper en todo caso
It’s like you heard, God spoke, I’ve seen the ghetto gospel
The choir like my reefer and the preacher got my eyes low
Sister Mary Jane to make me see from singing high notes
The bible or the rifle, goodnight folks
If Junot Diaz has been attributed to having one of the new voices of contemporary American literature, then A$AP can claim an equal space in the rap world. Santigold’s great chorus on Hell, the great chill wave pop beat in Fashion Killa, and the necessary banger about having lots of sex (with Drake, Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz) are only a few reasons why I’m certain to return to this album many times. Despite London’s inability to bring anything resembling spring, this sounds like an appropriate soundtrack for warmer and brighter times.