Goddamn, how real is this? is the first thing we hear from ASAP Rocky on his debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP. Its a fitting introduction: The 23-year-old Harlem-bred rappers first tracks surfaced barely six months ago, but he has already signed an eye-popping $3 million deal with Sony/RCA. In turn, his rapid rise has led some to peg him as New York raps latest prince. Whats curious is that hes starting to become exactly that.
To be blunt, LiveLoveA$AP is worth nearly all of the incredible amount of buzz it’s accumulated in recent weeks. Opener Palace is gorgeous and monolithic, as Clams Casinos booming beat provides one hell of a base; like many moments here, ASAPs rapping on it could have been mediocre (which it isnt), and the track still would have been fantastic. Next comes Peso, one of the strongest rap songs of this past summer. Its where we first heard ASAPs tagline I be that pretty motherfucka/Harlems what Im reppin and it somehow sounds better in the context of an entire tape. Later, we get highlights Bass and Trilla, two immaculately produced space-outs.
At one point, ASAP confesses hes influenced by Houston, but that would be hard to miss even if he didnt admit it outright; in addition to the codeine and DJ Screw references, many of the beats here are down-tempo and have chopped-and-screwed potential. That said, the Southern flavors crossbreed with plenty of cloudy ambient-rap moments (Get Lit, Demons), which lends LiveLoveA$AP a refreshing, addictive dynamic throughout.
Then theres ASAPs rapping. Though by no means an especially striking lyricist (Peso lines Bad bitch, double Ds/Poppin E, I dont give a F/Told ya Im a G basically sum up his thematic persona), hes one of those guys who has a top-shelf understanding of how a beats cadences dictate flow. This is most evident when hes juxtaposed with guests like Spaceghostpurrp and ASAP Mob members Ferg and Twelvy, who all sound a hair stiff atop these beats in comparison to the main man. Although it can be tempting to focus on the mere sonic architecture of this tape, ASAPs rhyming is LiveLoveA$APs one element that confirms he is not only bound for fast stardom, but also that hes sharp enough to deserve it.
Essential Tracks: “Peso”, “Bass”, and “Trilla”