Since his last full project At. Long. Last. A$AP back in 2015, the Harlem native did not only make several guest appearances on tracks, but also worked on two A$AP Mob compilations, named Cozy Tapes. In addition to that, of course, he continued being the fashion-killa and trendsetter that he is – with GQ labelling him “the world’s flyest human” in October 2017.
Speaking about the album back then, when it was still in the works, he talked about how it would be all about testing new sounds and reaching a new audience, whilst allowing his current fans to grow with him through his music.
Even though TESTING does not seem to have an impact as high as Rocky’s debut album release Long. Live. A$AP, it does not disappoint. Consisting of 15 tracks, and with an impressive list of artist features, it’s a solid piece of work, and certainly his most ambitious, personal and experimental project to date.
Some of the massive names he collaborated with on this, include Juicy J, T.I., Frank Ocean, French Montana, FKA twigs, Skepta, Kid Cudi, Kodak Black, Playboi Carti and Smooky MarGielaa.
“A$AP Forever“, which dropped a couple of months ago, is the first single off the album, and it gave us a first real taste of the project. The production is truly mesmerising, seeing as it samples Moby’s “Porcelain” – the main soundtrack of The Beach, while Rocky, Kid Cudi & T.I.’s lines unsurprisingly revolve around celebrating the A$AP movement, all paired with Khloe Anna’s soft and warm vocals.
This one comes with fascinating visuals too, co-directed by Dexter Navy; a weird trip through time & space. You can peep the official video with appearances from several A$AP Mob members here.
Highlights throughout the album include “Fukk Sleep“, which is a wavy collaboration with FKA Twigs. It has a murky trap vibe that together with its lines, becomes the ultimate flex song; Rocky does not lack fluidity and Twigs does what she knows best – offering her golden, dreamy vocals.
“Praise The Lord (Da Shine)” marks the third collaboration between A$AP Rocky with Skepta, and the track showcases pretty distinctive Skepta sounds, along with quality flows from both artists. “Buck Shots” is another highlight, where the rapper teams up with Playboi Carti and Smooky MarGielaa for a new club anthem produced by Kelvin Krash, where the main subject is guns and violence.
Moving towards the end of the album, we see a very vulnerable and insecure side of Flacko in both “Black Tux, White Collar” and “Changes“. We hear the MC having a rant about the prison system and how success and fame have changed his life, as well as reminiscing over a past relationship respectively, over nostalgic beats.
The 15th and last song of the album, “Purity” is a psychedelic, confessional and soulful one about loss, grief and loneliness. I’m trying not to be bias when it comes to Frank Ocean and I’m probably failing, massively – but you have to admit, this song is a must-listen.
Sampling an unplugged version of Ms. Lauryn Hill’s classic “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind”, Flacko is talking about his career and busy schedule that keep him from finding time for his family and how he’s trying to battle demons from his past with alcohol and other substances.
At the same time, Frank Ocean is highlighting the struggle he experiences in his own pursuit of peace and purity in life, “brain on drugs, I still ain’t got no peace of mind” he says. With distorted, multi-layered beats & synths, this song is a trip, whilst A$AP Rocky’s and Frank Ocean’s charisma and chemistry are undeniable.
Executive produced by A$AP Rocky and co-produced by Hector Delgado, Juicy J, Chace Johnson and AWGE, TESTING is out now via A$AP Worldwide/Polo Grounds Music/RCA Records, purchase it on iTunes here, and stream it below.
Words by Sofia Theiakouli
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