It’s Flacko season! May 26th ushered in a new era for popular New York rap star A$AP Rocky with the release of his second studio album, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP. Originally scheduled for a June 2nd release, ALLA leaked online thus forcing Rocky to release it a week early. The title AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP conveys a double meaning; one, he’s acknowledging that his revolutionary album took a while to craft and finalize at last, and two, the acronym ALLA is a homonym for the Islam god, Allah. The album features several high profile rappers, producers (including Future, Schoolboy Q, Lil Wayne, Rod Stewart, Kanye West, Juicy J, Miguel, Mark Ronson, UGK, James Fauntleroy, Mos Def and A$AP Yams) and an unknown London street performer, Joe Fox.
The production on ALLA veers into the darker, ominous side of Rocky’s spectrum. The overall gritty sound delivers an aura of depression. The album starts slowed and depressed; most likely due to the death of A$AP Yams, his late friend and business partner. Several different producers contribute to ALLA, but frequent collaborator Clams Casino fails appear on the project. Despite this, he maintains the classic nontraditional Rocky sound. In addition, they mix in numerous live instruments, such as guitar riffs, that further distinguish his sound from the norm. Overall, the production consolidates well; however, one will either love it or hate it.
Rocky touches upon various subject matter throughout ALLA. The combination of inescapable fame, failed relationships, death and psychedelic drugs provoke consistent somber expression. He is emotionally drained on “pharsyde”:
used to never give a damn, now I don’t give a fuck entirely //
I think my pride died in me, somewhere inside of me, it’s gotta be //
A whole ‘nother side of me //
If you seen the shit that I’d have seen in 26 years of living //
That’s how many fucks I’d give
The distressing content paints an unabridged picture; one can truly endure the raw thoughts and emotions that Rocky felt when he wrote the album. With each new project, he shows consistent progression that satisfies and provokes reflection. ALLA is no exception.
Despite an overall depressed vibe, Rocky shows signs of life on some songs; namely “Excuse Me”, “Wavybone”, and “Jukebox Joints”. The 5th song “Excuse Me” flips the mood 180 from a depressed start to a happy and revitalized vibe. “JD” then continues to pick up the tempo as the trap segment of ALLA comes and goes.
Rocky’s style is anything but consistent on this album. He moves from spoken word play segments to acapella to choppy flow and everything in between. He even harnesses his best Bone Thugs N Harmony impression on “LSD” with the singing verses and harmonizing hook. Additionally, the verses on “Better Things” prove that Rocky can absolutely go off 🔥🔥🔥whenever he wants to. Lastly, he wraps up the album with a beautiful tribute to A$AP Yams (RIP).
For the most part, the features impress. Unfortunately, the Future feature is God awful, as I have become accustomed to. Regardless, Lil Tunechi and Q add quality verses on their respective songs and Mos Def’s verse is the cherry on top of the album outro. But the greatest feature has to be British former street performer/singer Joe Fox, who’s on the album 5 times. The story of how Rocky met him and collaborated is pretty unbelievable too:
“I met the man. He was a street performer. [I met him in] London.”——This kid comes with his guitar and stuff. He was out there playing and stuff and he comes,” ——– “It was about 4 a.m. so there’s nobody in the streets. He tried to give me a CD and s—. I was like, ‘I’m not about to listen to that, man. Play something. You got your guitar.’ He played it and I was just like, ‘Stop man. Come on let’s go.’ That’s where it started.” He even disclosed some surprising living arrangements “We did the album — pause — we live together. That’s the homie, he’s one of the brothers,”. ASAP Rocky telling Ebro on Hot 97
Joe’s muffled sounding hook on “Max B” adds a mysterious element to the song, and his melodic hook on “Holy Ghost” remains the most memorable one on the album, in my opinion.
Overall, Rocky thoughtfully crafted ALLA; the bridges, interludes, and overall play-ability of the album as a whole transpose the modern paradigm of song A.D.D. The project remains best served together all at once. ALLA’s unique hip hop style remains hard to describe, but it indubitably rivals the greatest projects of modern rap.
Stream AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP below, and let us know what you think!