We live in a weird age where all it takes is a unique visual identity to have hipster music journos falling over themselves to give you props and declare you the next big thing.
Image has always been critical in music, particularly Hip Hop where personality is as important to the listener as actual skill or talent – how often do you hear folkie guitar singers talking about having more swag than another shaggy-haired hippy singer? The difference is that we’re currently in an age where you have a nano-second to get people engaged with you before they’re on to the next video of a cat breakdancing. Visuals have never been more important! Clearly A$AP and the crew are more than just an image BUT they’ve certainly become the cool kids that everyone wants to dress like and Instagram the sh*t out of. In the space of a few months the once omnipresent horrorcore stylings of Odd Future has disappeared from the Tumblrs et al, only to be replaced by A$AP and his crew swagging it out.
Sometimes you’ve got to cut through the hype and focus on the music. A$AP Rocky’s 2nd,and breakthrough, mixtape LiveLoveA$ap is good. It’s not as incredible as the frothing blogheads will have you believe, but he’s a talented MC with a lot of style. It seems so simple now but the true mashing up of East Coast sensibilities and Dirty South flavours offers something fairly new to the game. Sure, Cam’Ron and the Diplomats toyed with this and it is no surprise that A$AP is also from Harlem and cites the Dips as a huge influence, but no one has taken this juxtaposition through everything they do.
Knowingly or unknowingly he represents the new generation of HipHop fans who don’t give a f*ck about regions or coastal rivalry; they simply love the genre and will happily have an iPod filled equally with Boom-Bap, Trap Muzik and G-Funk.
Perhaps this is why A$AP has caught people’s attention. For the past 6 years, no NY MCs have come through with anything fresh because they’ve been too concerned with truly representing the East Coast and all the Golden Era baggage that comes with this. By forgetting about the past and focussing on what has influenced him and his crew growing up, A$AP has created a sound and style that represents real modern day Hip Hop better than any knock off Nas flower who constantly talks about keeping it real.
Forgetting the tracks that have already been blogged and reblogged ad nauseum, here is my highlight from the mixtape: