Before I start throwing my opinions at you, let me first explain what I believe makes a good rap/hip-hop song and how I broke down A$AP’s new album “Long Live A$AP” which dropped January 15, 2013. I Believe that every good rapper owns a unique set of characteristic: I call it his sound. A rapper’s sound can include but, is not limited his voice, patterns and similarities in flow vs. instrumentals, and what he usually raps about. While I understand that 80% of all rap songs talk about the same thing- Sex, Drugs, and Poverty, I also believe modern hip-hop has progressed enough to have the need for the artist to present those major themes in unique and original ways, whether it be through well-crafted literary devices such as contextual examples, such as metaphors, onomatopoeias, allegories, ect. or though stylistic presentation via intricate cadences and changes in tone.
I listened from the first track to the last, and broke down each song into three categories.
For the instrumental category I graded on emotion provoking sounds that made you want to move and produced feelings. The “Flow” category was graded by the euphonic quality of the rapper’s voice, his variability in cadence, and how smooth and effortless he made it sound. Content was graded on the overall message of the song, depth of vocabulary, and thought provoking lyrics/ literary devices.
If a song passed my standards on 2/3 categories, then the song received one point. Each song had the chance to receive one extra credit point if I really liked it, but only if was a solo song, (sorry, no collaborations). I then divided the number of points by the number of tracks on the album to come up with a raw score. I then took the liberty to add or subtract a maximum of 5% depending on how well put together and how artistic the album was as a whole.
Track 1- Long Live A$AP-PASS
Instrumental – Pass- The drop was sick and heavy, and exemplifies his new age, spacy, dark sound.
Flow- Pass- Hops around the beat well, with a smooth cool demeanor.
Content – Pass- Nothing monumental, but a few lines put a small grin on my face.
Track 2- Goldie-PASS
Instrumental – Pass- Light whistles and wide range of bass drums made my head bounce (in a good way).
Flow – Pass- No weak parts, consistently smooth.
Content – pass- It’s harder than you’d think to make improper grammar sound eloquent.
Track 3- PMW (All I really need)-PASS
Instrumental – Pass- If this instrumental was later in the album, I might have failed it, one problem I had with the album is the sounds are a little repetitive, but, it being in the beginning, I wasn’t sick of it yet.
Flow – Pretty good, saved the track from failing.
Content- Fail – I liked Weezy’s take.
Track 4- LVL- FAIL
Instrumental- Fail – His sound is dangerously close to new age dubstep/electronic on this song, but I’m not complaining.
Flow- Fail – The only signs of life in his flow happen between 2:12 and 2:26… and it’s a 3:40 song.
Content- Fail – Unimpressed is the first word that comes to mind.
Track 5- Hell- FAIL
Instrumental – Fail – sounds like a transposed version of the last song that was ripped off youtube.
Flow – Fail – His flow is average, and the hook is weak AF.
Content – Pass – The only silver lining to this song is it sounds like he’s speaking real, not just searching for street cred.
Track 6- Pain- FAIL
Instrumental – Fail- too simple for me, the synths drag up…then down… and repeat.
Flow- Fail – Tube almost saves it, but the first two minutes were a struggle.
Content- Fail – when it rains, it pours. Nothing even worth mentioning here.
Track 7-Fuckin’ problem-PASS
Instrumental-pass- love the old school sound fused with A$AP’s. Bass line is fire
Flow- Pass- Kendrick, Drake, and A$AP all go hard keep the flow rolling and my feet tapping the floor
Content- Pass- Funny ass hook (keeping 2 Chainz where he belongs)
Track 8-Wild for the night-PASS
Instrumental- Pass- Glitch hop has a beautiful future and this song is proof
Flow- Pass- first use of the supa low voice I can put my stamp of approval on
Content- Fail- nothing special, but lets be honest will anyone care when they’re hammered?
Instrumental- Pass- Godfather-esque, perfect platform for lyrical murder
Flow/Content- Pass- A$AP is good by himself…but add Joey Bada$$, Kendrick, Yelawolf, and Danny Brown… you would have to be a communist not to like this song.
Track 10-Fashion killa- FAIL
Instrumental-Fail- little too close to the 80’s for me
Flow-Fail- nothing to shake a stick at
Content- Pass- A lot of rappers are talking designers these days, but I believe A$AP is the most qualified
Instrumental- Fail- waaay too basic, sounds like a new single from Enya
Flow- Pass- On point, great build up to the drop
Content- Pass- Made up for the basic ass instrumental
Instrumental- Fail- I wouldn’t say its bad, its just more of an ambient background
Flow- Pass- smooth at first, then straight viscous when he spits up around 2:30
Content- Pass- Slimy, yet satisfying
Instrumental-fail-Closest sound I could relate to this is the harmonic thrum that occurs on road trips when the windows are rolled down the right way
Flow- Fail-Its alright, but no where near good enough to make up for the rest of the song
Track 14-Ghetto Symphony-pass
Instrumental- Pass- It sounds like the song was named after the instrumental
Flow- Pass- Ferg brings it all together at the end
Content-pass- wasn’t much tere, just the same stuff that you hear in every rap song.
Isntrumental- Fail- Hard to listen to
Flow- Pass- He can kill a slow beat when he hits it fast
Content- Pass- By no means is it legendary, but its good enough
Track 16-I come apart- PASS
Instrumental- Pass- A pleasing sound staying with his sound
Flow- Pass- I like the hook, and I like how he changes it up and half ass sings in the second verse, its good.
Content- Pass- a song with a meaning, and I enjoyed the female perspective
11 points/ 16 tracks = raw score of 69% + 3% on account for his unique sound and hints of artisticnesss = 72%.
I liked his sound, but with the overuse of the supa low voice, slow (sometimes iffy) instrumentals, and no exceptional songs by himself, the album was far from spectacular. On the album, I’d that my favorite tracks were either Fuckin’ Problem or 1Train, I thin that it was those two songs that really let it pull through than being what could have ultimately been an over-hyped flop.