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A$AP Rocky’s A.L.L.A. (At Long Last A$AP) officially leaked three weeks ago to the clamor of the hip hop community, but for some reason there wasn’t an urgency to listen to this album. In the midst of what has gone on in so far in 2015—and the fact that the album was released with other notables like Chance The Rapper’s Social Experiment project—A.L.L.A. took some time to get to, and get into.
Upon first listen the album is a bit underwhelming, but after spending some time with it, A.L.L.A. begins to take shape. The album is dope in its aesthetic and its attempts at experimentation, but it lacks substance. Sans the intro, for fifteen-plus songs Rocky never deviates from talking about anything other than the same thing he was talking about in the song before it, just with different beats and influences. That lack of real subject matter is cool for mixtapes, but isn’t the best approach to an album, especially your sophomore LP.
But maybe that’s just what Rocky does best? While centered in trips abroad, newfound success, women and drug talk, Rocky manages to make most of it all entertaining as he takes us on alternative trips (“L.S.D.”) or keeps it at home (“Back Home,” featuring Pretty Flocko Sr, Mos Def). Songs like “Canal St,” “Jukebox Joints,” “Max B,” and “Wavybone” all represent the different sounds that Rocky sounds his best over. The Houston bounce, soul samples, and gritty NY production, and then the features boost their stocks. Pimp C’s latest installment of the Trill testament all sells “Wavybone.” Let’s not forget Lil’ Wayne’s rewind worthy verse on “M’s.”
On the downside there are the weird experiments like “West Side Highway” and “Fine Wine,” which initially sound good but end up as pop fly outs in the field. “Electric Body” disappointed with Schoolboy Q and Rocky looking to stick to tradition. I dig that A$AP wanted to take his cool off on some tracks, but sometimes that dish is best served with the works.
A.S.A.P.’s A.L.L.A. is good album, one of the better ones this year. He takes us on an interesting trip through music’s dark underworld, never looking to come up for light and it pays off. What you get may not be what you expected, but it works. There were some experiments that hit the nail on the head and some experiments that fell a bit flat. Overall, after A.L.L.A, I rather have A$AP Rocky here than not.