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“ALLA” Album Review: Talented ASAP Rocky Stuck In A Rut


Coming out of Harlem, New York is Asap Rocky.  His road to hip hop stardom isn’t anything new: from a poor family, dealt drugs, saw death at an early age–began rapping–things happened.

That’s not to belittle his journey – at all, but one wouldn’t get that “defeated while coming up” tone if they listened to Rocky’s music.  Some would call him more of a modern-day hippie–much like Wiz Khalifa and others.

He struck a $3 million dollar deal because of his mixtape success and has capitalized releasing hits like “F’n Problems” and “Wild For the Night” from his first album “Long. Live. ASAP.”

His follow up album “ALLA (At Long Last ASAP)” comes with the pressure of capitalizing off his commercial success.

The album starts off perfectly with “Holy Ghost.”  In terms of delivery and tone, Rocky sounds more like T.I. than anything else, but delivers some insightful lines: “Satan giving out deals, finna own these rappers / the game is full of slaves and they mostly rappers / you sold your soul first, then your homies after / Let’s show these stupid field n*****s they can own they masters.” 

Rocky is a young business mind and finds it weird how some who have been in the game longer than him still get screwed over with music industry politics.  The laid back “Excuse Me” shows Rocky delivering a laid back flow in which he rattles off a perfect rhyme scheme.  Rocky likes to “flex” a lot and on this track he continues that pattern : “I spent 20 thousand dollars with my partnas in Bahamas / Another 20 thousand dollars on Rick Owens out in Barneys / I said excuse me, why the f*ck you lookin? What’s your problem? / I swear we gon’ have drama if you touch my tailored garments.”

He pays homage on the track “Max B” to the incarcerated rapper that goes by the same name but the hook by (mostly unknown) Joe Fox, throws the song entirely off.  Rocky has features by Kanye West and Lil Wayne on the album – and they both outshine Rocky easily.

Kanye produces and  is featured on “Jukebox Joints.”  This features Kanye doing his soul-sampling production which many miss, but it’s less a piece of production and more a lazy use of a looped sample.  Even when the beat switches up half way through the song, there’s nothing spectacular until Kanye jumps on the track himself, which isn’t a good look for Rocky.

On the track “M’$” Lil’ Wayne delivers one of his best verses in years (seriously): “Put a B up let’s fight, don’t get beat up tonight / Feet up in my European, I ride with me heater inside / Kill you an dyour dog then go put on a shirt that say PETA For Life / Like you sneez you on tight, you got beef I got white / You got beef I got white / I got green, I got white, I got pink, I got pints, I got lean, I got ice, I got needles and pipes. . .”   Looking into this situation a little more, Rocky must’ve felt that Wayne “spazzing” out on this track wouldn’t be good for him, so when “M’$” was released as a single, it was released with a second verse from Rocky and no verse from Wayne.

This isn’t good business from the young entrepreneur  who relies on the line “N*gg@ we talking ’bout M’s” to be repeated about 8 times to complete a sad and lazy hook.

“ALLA” is a tough album to listen through in one sitting, mainly because all of the beats are hypnotically slow.  Add to the fact that Rocky loves using the “screwed” up effect on his voice which almost makes the tracks slow down audibly.  The track “L$D” is an ode to his admitted favorite drug LSD – which explains a lot of the “hippie” and “psychedelic” feel throughout “ALLA.”

This track is all over the place and at times becomes incoherent.  “Fine Wine” is another weird song about a relationship coming to an end, but the “screwed” voice effect takes away from any real feel to the record – the combination of M.I.A, Joe Fox and Dream on the wrong just add to the confusion, as none of them bring anything of substance to the table.

ASAP Rocky has talent, but sometimes seems stuck in a rut when in comes to production.  An example of this is on the SchoolBoy Q featured track “Electric Body” : “Got a bitch in the spot and she faded / Yeah, corset top with the new ass shots / Couple Instagram likes, now she famous / Nose job, workin’ on some payments / On a new car, now she finna trade it.”  

A nice surprise was the addition of Miguel and Rod Stewart’s vocals on the hook of “Everyday.”  The track is listed to be produced by seven different people, but the main name on the list is Mark Ronson’s who’s blues / funk inspiration is peppered all throughout the track perfectly.

Rocky has a lot of creativity and enough talent to come up with better material.  Sometimes things just come together lazy although he probably thinks he’s putting in a good effort.

Amazing what drugs can do to your mind.

Rating 2 out of 5

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

 


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