Album Review: A$AP Rocky's, LiveLoveA$AP

By Hank Hansen

SAP Rocky is inextricably linked to his hip-hop heritage, all the way down to his given name of Rakim. Generally considered one of the greatest emcees of all time, the original Rakim revolutionized hip-hop and apparently even inspired the naming choice of Rocky’s parents. But ask Rocky about his rhyming lineage and he first points to more contemporary influences: “They say I sound like Andre mixed with Kanye / Little bit of Max, little bit of Wiz.” Either way, there’s no denying that Rocky is one of most exciting new faces in rap, and with a recently signed three million dollar record deal with RCA, we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the near future. LiveLoveA$AP, Rocky’s most recently released mixtape, finds the 23 year old caught in between worlds. Born and raised in New York City, Rocky’s music is defined by the confluence of his home roots with his love for Houston’s slow, syrupy rap aesthetic. “I never been there but I just love the culture,” Rocky said of Houston. “[Houston rap] is melodic, so it attracted me.” The result is a flow that is at once druggy and razor-sharp, particularly on the excellent “Peso,” with playfully chiming production provided by cohort ASAP Ty Beats. The best production on the mixtape, however, is provided by rising New Jersey beat-maker Clams Casinos. On tracks like “Palace,” “Bass,” and “Demons,” Clams lays a backdrop of crunching beats and ghostly haze that is perfectly suited for Rocky’s raw delivery. Although the entire mixtape is solid, the tracks with Clams behind the wheel are the ones most likely to end up on repeat. At 23, ASAP Rocky is still young, and it is clear that he is still defining his image as a rapper. He loves to name drop expensive designers, (“Raf Simons, Rick Owens, usually what I’m dressed in”), but on “Wassup” he claims “I ain’t talkin’ bout no money, I ain’t talkin’ bout no cars / ain’t talkin’ bout no diamonds cuz that shit is a façade.” Hypocrisy is by no means a death sentence in the rap world and it won’t be Rocky’s undoing, but it would still be nice to see him moved beyond materialistic rhymes and onto something deeper. Nonetheless, LiveLoveA$AP is one of the most appealing mixtapes of the year and should be at the