Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky has unveiled his long awaited sophomore album At. Long. Last. A$AP, one week before its official release date, debuting straight at #1 on the US Billboard Album charts. Born and raised in Harlem, New York, A$AP Rocky – real name Rakim Mayers – joined the A$AP Mob, a community of Harlem-based rappers, designers, directors or producers who share the same passion for the same music, art and lifestyle, at the age of 19. There he also met his, now deceased, mentor A$ap Yams, to whom he basically dedicates this whole album.
The rapper’s musical influences range from Mobb Deep to Run DMC to the Wu-Tang Clan among others, and after his first single “Peso” was released in 2011, his music career grew exponentially in no time. It led to his commercially successful US Billboard chart-topping debut album Long. Live. A$AP. His follow up album At. Long. Last. A$AP features 18 tracks in total, and contains quite a few features from big names in the music industry, including Kanye West, M.I.A, Miguel, Schoolboy Q or Juicy J.
Of the lesser known collaborators, one guest appearance on the album stands out above the rest, appearing on five of the eighteen songs on At. Long. Last. A$AP, and that is Joe Fox. Who is Joe Fox though? As the story goes, Rocky met him on the streets of London. Being homeless and only equipped with a guitar, Fox tried to hand out one of his CDs to Rocky but he insisted on Fox performing something for him live. So he did, and that’s how the talented Londoner got discovered, and subsequently appears heavily on Rocky’s sophomore album.
One of the tracks Fox contributed to is “Fine Whine”, which also features M.I.A and Future. It’s dedicated to all the unstable and broken relationships out there. Well, Future and Rocky obviously know what they are talking about, with both having faced break-ups from relationships with their respective long-term partners. British female artist M.I.A supports them by energetically rapping the bridge and telling A$AP’s new girl to go screw herself – “how the f**k am I supposed to feel / treated like a bell, put the check and split / tell your new b**ch she can suck a d**k“.
One of the album’s trippiest tracks certainly is “L$D“, which is also the most discussed one. According to the rapper, it is his preferred drug, despite the fact that A$AP Yams died from a drug overdose back in January. Apparently his music colleague ILoveMakonnen introduced him to the drug at the SXSW festival, leading to Rocky having several orgies afterwards. Taking LSD has also inspired him to try out new sounds in his songs, which is definitely noticeable in this one. But the track is not only an ode to his favourite pharmaceutical, it also is pointed towards his many love affairs with women as the word is also short for Love, Sex and Dreams. “L$D” can be compared to the sound of Kid Cudi’s psychedelic tracks, such as his ‘Marijuana’.
At. Long. Last. A$AP ends with “Back Home”, featuring Mos Def and Acyde. It is a tribute to his mentor Yams – “Rest in peace Yams, RIP A$AP Yamborghini / We gon’ take it uptown one time / We gon’ take em back home, show em how me do” – who was the creative head behind At. Long. Last. A$AP and even gets the credit as executive producer.
Yams still had the chance to contribute the ‘outro’ to the track, where he’s pointing out that from the beginning, A$AP Mob has been a huge influence to both music and fashion, and always will be – “We from Harlem, we gave y’all motherf***ers this wave. Grab y’all surfboards, cause y’all got your boogy boards right now, fucker. Ya’ll just gon’ keep watching us at the beach show with your mother fuckin’ khakis rolled up. With your chancletas in your hand and we just gon’ keep surfing on this motherf***er“.
After listening to those and the other 17 tracks on the album, it can be claimed for sure that Rakim Mayers stops at nothing – whether it is him dissing Rita Ora, praising a hardcore drug or just not giving a damn about what others think. A$AP Rocky has come a long way since his success with “Peso” and “Purple Swag”, and his new album shows how much he has improved, even though he might have been on a major trip while writing his songs. At. Long. Last. A$AP is out now via RCA Records, purchase it here.
Words by Antonia K