A$AP Rocky's journey since his 2011 mixtape 'Live. Love A$AP.' release has been remarkable. The internet buzz his debut release attracted, as well as the hype surrounding the rest of the A$AP Mob collective, has transpired into a successful business enterprise, music career and a hoard of faithful fans. Rocky's 2013 debut album, 'Long. Live. A$AP.' featured collaborations with the likes of Skrillex and Florence Welch amongst a selection of other MCs, and showed that the New York MC was far more than just the standard rap artist. I must confess that, while always respecting the grind of Rocky and the rest of the A$AP crew, the music was never too much of a draw for me. 'At. Long. Last. A$AP.' changes that. Released following the untimely death of A$AP Yams, a huge source of inspiration and guidance for the duration of Rocky's musical endeavours, the album feels like a real celebration of just how far the group's work has taken them.
Rocky starts the album off with 'Holy Ghost', which has a rich and full instrumental, produced by Danger Mouse, laced with electric guitars. The album's opener also marks the first appearance of Joe Fox, a British singer who appears five times on 'At. Long. Last. A$AP.' 'Canal St.' follows, and the pounding beat, courtesy of Hector Delgado, and cocky lyrics make for an early standout. The track features Bones, a Muir Beach California rapper who has been steadily gaining the attention of music fans via his internet presence. Recent single 'L$D' is another highlight, and showcases a side of A$AP Rocky I haven't heard before, with outstanding results. The relaxed vibe of the track, along with an effective and emotional vocal performance from Rocky make for an impressive cut. The 26-year-old MC delivers tight flows throughout, evident on 'Excuse Me', as he rides the beat confidently, as well as dropping a memorable hook.
A$AP Rocky enlists Kanye West for a feature on the outstanding 'Jukebox Joints', along with Joe Fox. The mature approach and structure shows Rocky's growth from tracks like 'Purple Swag', which although were dope in their own way, the content and subtlety evident on 'At. Long. Last. A$AP. is far more of a winner for me. 'Max B' is the standout from the album, inspired by the true case of the Harlem MC. Joe Fox's appearance on this is spine-tingling, and the contrast from Rocky's verses to Fox's hook works incredibly well. 'Pharsyde' follows, and it's yet another fantastic collaboration with Joe Fox, whose presence on the album has a huge impact on the overall feel of the project. 'Wavybone' is an ingenious addition, featuring Juicy J and UGK. Pimp C's verse is dope, and the beat is both soulful and perfectly matched to the southern drawls of the guest MCs.
Although the Rita Ora call out might be what people are concentrating on, 'Better Things' is a good track regardless, with Rocky oozing cool over a slow paced beat, produced by Frans Mernick. The Mark Ronson produced, Miguel and Rod Stewart featuring 'Everyday' is another mature and classy track, as Rocky lasts the distance on this lengthy album. The interpretation of Stewart's own appearance on Python's 1970 track 'In A Broken Dream' work well, and this is a reference I've heard in a couple of hip-hop tracks, such as Shameless' 'Everyday (In A Broken Dream) from his 2007 'Smokers Die Younger', and it always works fantastically. The album closes out with the victorious 'Back Home', which features Mos Def, Acyde and an A$AP Yams interlude to finish.
A disappointing Lil Wayne verse aside, A$AP Rocky isn't let down by any of his collaborators, and the emphatic, cohesive production makes 'At. Long. Last. A$AP.' a real triumph. His journey from the webisphere to one of the biggest players in the current hip-hop game has not come without hard work and hustle, and 'At. Long. Last. A$AP.' is certainly his best work so far.
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