In case you missed it during your post-Halloween hangover stupor, Harlem's way-hot-right-now rapper A$AP Rocky released his much-delayed, much-hyped LiveLoveA$AP mixtape earlier this week. Easily one of the biggest blog sensations of 2011 thanks to his "Purple Swag" and "Peso" videos, Rocky (real name Rakim Meyers) translated his plentiful buzz into a $3 million RCA deal right before the mixtape's official release date. Usually a deal that big at a time like that is a career death knell disguised as an opportunity, a move that can only set a young artist up to fall harder from the pedestal they've been put on. While LiveLoveA$AP predictably fails to live up to all that hype, it's a strong enough release to avoid doing any permanent damage to the young rapper's career.
The production, featuring multiple tracks by online sensations Clams Casino (making a strong case for producer of the year with his work here), Beautiful Lou and DJ Burn One, is absolutely monstrous, carrying much of the album's weight all the way through. Rocky's half swag/half trill raps are decent enough, but a bit repetitive, forcing in his "I be that pretty motherfucker" tagline whenever possible. And while most features on the rapper have been quick to point out his Harlem and Houston influences, there's also a ton of choppy, stumbling double-time cadences and phrasing a la early Three-6 Mafia or Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Rocky and his A$AP associates fall back on these tactics whenever things start to get boring, and it works most of the time.
Props must also be given for refreshing his viral hit into "Purple Swag: Chapter 2," adding a new verse and including guest spots from crew member A$AP Nast and Miami's SpaceghostPurrp (er, SPVGHXSTPVRRP if you're into that sort of thing). The Main Attrakionz collab from 808s + Dark Grapes II formerly known as "Take 1" also makes an appearance here, though it's now strangely titled "Leaf." The
mixtape free album fizzles a bit towards the end, but there are enough strong, standalone tracks on it to make it worthy of regular rotation, especially if said rotation is being done while riding in a car, inhaling blunt smoke or drinking from double (or triple!) styrofoam cups. LiveLoveA$AP isn't changing the face of hiphop or anything by a long shot, but it's a damn good free release.
It's out there for the finding. You know what to do.