ASAP Rocky is primed to take the belt with his next album
Nearly three years since the release of At. Long. Last. A$AP, hip-hop’s rising icon, A$AP Rocky, is preparing to release his third studio album. This third album is much different than anything he’s released before– just from his singles alone. The truth is that Rocky’s next album carries with it more curiosity than most, including himself who is probably willing to admit. Since Rocky gave us Long. Live. ASAP, there were few that could step forward and deny the potential that came with an artist of his caliber. However, with his current releases, I’d say this time around something has changed. Rocky hasn’t given us those all out verses that he delivered in tracks like “Multiply,” “Long Live ASAP,” and “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2.” Instead, he’s incorporated newer elements that have shown sides that resembles rappers from this current wave. Starting with tracks like “Raf,” which appeared on the Cosy Tapes Vol. 2.
The track had more of a SoundCloud vibe carried by rappers like Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti earlier in their careers (which they would both feature on), along with Frank Ocean and Quavo. Using more of a flow on the beat, the flex of the mentality of his next direction was made clear. Realistically this shouldn’t be much of a surprise given that Rocky himself, along with the rest of the Mob, are a melting pot of artists. Not to be confused with a culture vulture, but their ability to adapt styles and develop in an authentic manner is one that is more than impressive. Which is part of the reason most are drawn to Rocky in the first place– seeing his ability to be from Harlem, but adopt other styles without effort.
Daring to declare that he himself is the greatest rapper alive (while it’s not uncommon in the occasionally contact sport of hip-hop), this was a huge thing for Rocky to do. Not because he said it, but rather because many felt he had the audacity to actually say those words. Looking at the three year gap from his last album, it doesn’t seem that long, but were in a climate where artists are dropping two projects a year. It doesn’t come as much as a surprise that fans would hold Flacko to that standard, with only Kendrick and J. Cole seemingly holding immunity cards to these expectations.
Dubbing himself as the greatest rapper alive placed a whole new horizon of pressure on his young shoulders. However, the interesting portion is how unphased he appears. The notion that Rocky is dropping one of the most important albums that hip-hop has ever seen is more than laughable. Scoff as one might at such a brazen statement, although, there is no denying the importance of this album for Rocky’s future. Leaving one to wonder if it was too soon for Rocky to be in the same sentence as Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole?
In the event that the album flops… Say if it doesn’t connect with fans, or that the critic’s body slam it so many times that it puts Wrestlemania to shame…
Probably not a whole hell of a lot will happen, given Rocky’s current relevance in hip-hop, and the ongoing success of the A$AP Mob. It seems unlikely that he will be going away due to one bad album. In his three year absence, he has built a unique brand for himself. From appearances at Fashion Week to deals with brands like Under Armor and Guess, Rocky has slowly moved to the center of the social climate without his music. In addition, Rocky would do his best in ensuring the rest of the Mob, as individuals, would have their time to release projects properly. With Playboi Carti releasing his self-titled tape last year in April, followed by projects that would come in the later summer from ASAP Ferg and ASAP Twelvy; as well as the long-awaited release of Cosy Tapes Vol. 2. Along the way, he even teased a possible collab project with French Montana. So, even in what could be seen afar as a hiatus, Rocky has been hard at work. If not in making himself known in the fashion world, then keeping up with his crew to ensure A$AP Mob continues to strive and prosper.
Therefore, yes, the album might flop, or it may not. There isn’t anything wrong with experimenting, especially when it comes to the art form of music. However, in hip-hop, most artists return to that grounded style that has propelled them into the spotlight in the first place. The case would be no different with Rocky. The outcome of this album has many on their toes, itching to see what the final piece is going to be like. Given that Cardi B was able to silence her critics with her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, earlier this month, it would seem Rocky is up next to put to rest any expectations of him falling off. Long live the champ.