Over time music, specifically, hip-hop has evolved in many different ways that have helped artists expand their careers outside the music industry. With music and its reach becoming an ever expanding force in an increasingly globalised world, we now see notable individuals like Kanye West, Andre 3000, Pharrell, and more who have also become successful in the fashion industry.
This has been on our radar for some time now and we were hoping that an album release could serve as accompaniment, but unfortunately for the latter we still wait.
Rakim Mayers, burst onto the scene in the late autumn of 2011, I remember it so vividly as I was put onto him by a friend who told me his debut mixtape would ease my eager thirst for Drake’s Take Care which was due to release in November. Live. Love. ASAP did substantially more. Exhibiting some of his best work to date, Live. Love. catapulted Rocky to stardom. Lyrically poised and aware, with much of the production handled by Clams Casino, this mixtape was truly unique amongst its peers at the time. Tracks like “Peso” and “Wassup” are genuine classics in his library of work. For context, some of the mixtapes / albums straddling the months either side of Rocky’s debut project were:
- Wale – Ambition,
- Mac Miller – Blue Slide Park
- Yelawolf – Radioactive
- J. Cole- The Cole World: Sideline Story, and
- Soulja Boy – Skate Boy
We’ll leave you decide the significance of Live. Love in the context of the above.
After the mixtape, comes the album
Fast forward 15 months and a debut album had arrived in the shape of Long. Live ASAP. Slightly less bass-y and significantly more commercial, there was a slight sea change in Rocky’s approach. No longer were his raps solely about being a pretty motherfucker, repping Harlem and dripping in purple swag. Rocky had made it by this point, he was now officially the jiggyest of n****s.
Some commentators have labelled this album trash, we don’t subscribe to this view. For every “Fashion Killa” there’s a “Phoenix”, “Goldie” is as epic as “Fuckin’ Problems” is legendary and Rocky’s melodic flows on “Angels” are fitting end to a debut album. That said “Fashion Killa” exists. Funny for about 30 seconds of the first verse, where mentions every couture brand under the sun (around 27 or so including Prada, Tom Ford, Vena Ceva and Cartier), its tiresome and very cringe at times. Yes, we know you are a pretty mother f**cker but give us more.
“She got a lotta Prada, that Dolce & Gabbana
I can’t forget Escada, and that Balenciaga” – two verses of “Fashion Killa”
Nowadays, when Rocky is not in the front row of fashion week in a ski mask, he’s collaborating with the likes of Raf Simmons (now close friend) Adidas, Jeremy Scott and delivered a collaboration with another close friend Alexander Wang. He’s been identified by Forbes as being the curator of the “ghetto hipster aesthetic”.
Suggesting he sold his soul to fashion does Rocky a discredit, in 2015, he delivered his second solo album, At. Long. Last. ASAP (A.L.L.A). You’d be lying if you said you didn’t enjoy something on here, “LSD” whilst not a traditional Rocky sound is catchy, psychedelic and enjoyable, “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye” bangs, “Jukebox Joints” and “Better Things” (salute to Rita Ora) are also noteworthy.
During the gap between A$AP Rocky’s sophomore album, A.L.L.A, and his major label debut, his mentor A$AP Yams’ died. With A.L.L.A.—executive produced by Yams, along with Danger Mouse and featuring Kanye, Lil Wayne, Future, and M.I.A. among others—a real sense of identity has begun to coalesce in Rocky’s work, this wasn’t supposed to be a hip hop album, this to us sounded like a coming of age.
On the whole however, this album did feel like it was missing something, maybe its the Clams production, the huge influence of yams or the distraction of the catwalk but we are still waiting for what Rocky will do next in a solo project.
We understand that “Raf” featuring Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert and Frank Ocean, which dropped earlier this year will feature on an ASAP Mob project, rather than his solo album. Good thing to because he bodied by Frank Ocean.
In spite of all of that he has still managed to sign and executive produce Playboi Carti’s debut mixtape which features Magnolia maybe the biggest song of 2017 so far.
In research for this article, there has been distinct parallels to another Harlem born hip hop entrant-cum-fashion and business mogul, insert Sean Combs aka Puff Daddy. Famed for his 90s swagga more so than his rap and with a vast ability to curate and nurture talent under his label Bad Boy Records (see Faith Evans, Notorious B.I.G, 112 and Cassie for reference). Still a long way to go for ASAP Rocky in the coming years to accomplish the success of P Diddy, but you can bet his success will be sourced from a number of art forms with music potentially slipping into the background.
We have only briefly touched on the passing of Yams and not mentioned his potential slip into the sunken place, a plight that befalls all me choosing to partner up with one of the Jenner / Kardashian women. This is because it’s difficult to attribute outside influences to the direction of his music, simply because we don’t know Rocky.
Don’t get it twisted though we are huge fans and look forward to a Rocky release, single, album or feature with great optimism.