A$AP Rocky introduced us to his trill rap with the singles “Peso” and “Purple Swag” in 2011 but the Harlem rapper could’ve never imagined the rate at which his career would take off, further fueled by his acclaimed mixtape Live.Love.A$AP. A$AP’s unapologetic attitude is an essential part of his allure as an artist, but the 24-year-old acknowledges that working on his official debut Long.Live.A$AP forced him to grow up.
“This album is more advanced; it’s like [I] graduated,” he tells MTV News, while comparing it to his mixtape. “It took me a year to do it, so everything I’ve been going through — as far as life inspiration — is all from within this past year after I got my record deal. Live.Love.A$AP [is life] before the record deal and Long.Live.A$AP is after the deal.”
Where mixtapes allow young artists like Rocky to showcase their range without the interference of executives, he admits that releasing a studio project actually forced him to mature as a person, not necessarily just as an artist. “As soon as I turned 24 I said, ’I gotta stop acting 18′ — on the real, I gotta stop having fights, pissing in public, spitting, and I just gotta chill,” he said. “I gotta act like an adult for once and I had to change.”
Over the past year Rocky has made headlines for a of couple incidents like a brawl at SXSW, but he says that’s a thing of the past. “When’s the last time you heard about me having a fight?” he asked. “[It’s been] a long time. When’s the last time you heard about me getting into trouble and drama? It’s been awhile, but I guess that’s why everyone’s choosing to talk the most sh– now, because they see I’m chilling. But they better hope one day I don’t just wake up one day on some, ’I don’t give a sh– about this music’ sh– because I’ma hand out a lot of ass whooping.”
On Long.Live.A$AP, Rocky retains some of the formula that brought him initial success, like enlisting Clams Casino for more hazy hypnotic beats on “LVL” and “Hell” featuring Santigold, while stepping outside of the box and linking up with EDM all-star Skrillex on the raucous ’Wild for the Night’ and Florence Welch on ’I Come Apart.’
His lead singles “Goldie” and “F—n’ Problems” got no shortage of love in the clubs, especially with 2 Chainz, Drake and Kendrick Lamar assisting on the latter, but the album’s real posse cut is “1 Train,” inspired by the Harlem subway station and produced by Hit-Boy. Rocky pieced the track together himself, allowing his boys — Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson Joey Bada$$ and Big K.R.I.T. — to go wild, with a few of them even spitting 32 bars, though he only requested 16.
Things mellow out on songs like “Suddenly” where he paints pictures of his childhood and the Danger Mouse-produced “Phoenix,” which finds him coping with suicidal lows. As a complete body of work, A$AP Rocky is content with his range on the album.
“You can’t be scared to fail when you’re trying to seek perfection,” he says of taking musical risks. “The only way we know we’re allowed to sit on the front of the bus is because Rosa Parks did it first. That’s just an example, but if there was no Rosa Parks to do it maybe it would’ve been another person and that person would be historic. It’s just for the sake of argument, but I have to be Rosa Parks in so many situations — you gotta sit on the front of the bus, you got take that chance, you gotta stand up.”