#31. A$AP Rocky: At.Long.Last.A$AP

There are a lot of A$AP Rockys: there’s the trippy Harlem kid from “Peso,” the cocky pitch-adjusted playboy from “Goldie,” the radio-friendly A-lister from “Fuckin’ Problems,” and the Skrillex-collaborating party animal from “Wild For The Night.” But which is the real A$AP Rocky? On his latest album At.Long.Last.A$AP all of these personas meld together to form the most honest iteration of the rapper yet.

His signature deep pitch-adjusted vocals are back on tracks like “Fine Whine,” as he stumbles through a spacey rap about drugs and breakups before handing the microphone over to less sleepy MC’s like M.I.A. and Future. But Rocky is wide-awake when he wants to be, and he delivers some of the most potent verses of his career here. On opener “Holy Ghost” he examines piety, success, and what it means to keep your soul intact. “The game is full of slaves and they mostly rappers,” he proclaims. “Let’s show these stupid field n****s they could own they masters” (a double entendre playing on slaves rising above their masters and rappers taking back legal ownership of their master recordings from their record labels).

The album is full of impressive rapping, but it’s also full of creative melodies that veer closer to indie music than hip-hop. “Electric Body” showcases some agile interplay between A$AP Rocky and his favorite rapping partner Schoolboy Q, but the show is stolen by the trippy melodic outro produced by Danger Mouse. On “Excuse Me,” Rocky’s flow is languid as he asserts his status as a fashion and rap icon, but he’s equally impressive when he steps outside of the average rapper’s comfort zone to sing the colorful, airy chorus.

Ironically, the best song on At.Long.Last.A$AP—one of the year’s most buzzed–about rap albums—doesn’t have a single rapped lyric on it. It’s called “L$D,” and it’s the most creative song A$AP Rocky has released so far. On it he sings a cosmic, psychedelic, nearly through-composed ode to either a nameless woman or actual LSD—like The Weeknd’s mega hit “Can’t Feel My Face,” we never get confirmation as to whether he’s singing about the girl or the drug. “L$D” isn’t even a hip-hop song, but somehow it feels right at home on the album. This is a testament to the gradually solidifying, multi-faceted musical identity of A$AP Rocky. He might be one of the hottest rappers around, but if At.Long.Last.A$AP is any indication, we can expect some creative genre bending from him in the not-so-distant future.