The number of features on A$AP Rocky’s debut album, Long.Live.A$AP, doesn’t hold a candle to the number of guests on, say, Game’s Jesus Piece, but the Harlem rapper did team up for his posse cut “1 Train,” which includes verses from six of his favorite young rappers.
Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T. all kick memorable bars over a Hit-Boy beat that taps into that nostalgic ’90s hip-hop sound.
“I wanted to make a posse cut that felt like an original ’90s underground track, and I didn’t have to tell anyone what to do,” A$AP told MTV News of putting the song together. “The beat is self-explanatory — when you hear it, it just makes you wanna flow on some backpacker sh–.”
Though the lineup is heavy, Rocky didn’t choose his features on a whim. “I took it upon myself to feature all the people who I respect as artists of my generation — Danny Brown, K.R.I.T, Yelawolf, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Kendrick — I feel like they fit the criteria of the underground feel. I could’ve easily went and got Puff Daddy or Rick Ross, but I felt like this one needed the young feeling to it,” he said. “And everybody came and ripped it in their own way. Nobody sounded alike, everybody took it back to the essence and they bodied it, executed it.”
Wanting to make sure that the track turned out perfectly, A$AP pieced it together himself, determining the order of every feature. “You know how some people got 16 bars and some people got, like, 32 bars? I didn’t tell them to do that. They took it upon themselves to rap for like two verses. K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf did it. [I was like,] ’Damn, man, I told everybody 16 bars,’ but it was so dope I couldn’t cut it.”
On the track, fans hear A$AP declare that “anything is better than that 1 train,” and he means that literally. “When you think about New York, you think about things like the subway, and I needed to bring it back to that essence,” he said. “[But] when I’m rapping and mentioning ’anything is better than that 1 train,’ it’s the truth,” he explained. “When it’s winter, it’s cold in the station — especially on 96th Street, you’re waiting for hours because more than likely the 2 and 3 are running the most, and the 1 and 9 are taking the longest.
“Is the 9 still running?” he stops to ask, mid-sentence. When he receives confirmation that it isn’t, he adds, “Goes to show, I ain’t been down there in a while. In the summer, it’s hot as hell and too packed. In the winter, it’s cold as hell and too packed. Anything’s better than the 1 train, man.”
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