New York rapper A$AP Rocky is pretty clearly positioned as the new face of hip-hop, some much-needed freshness after the Odd Future trainwreck, Watch the Throne‘s preening self-indulgence and a new Drake record soft enough to make Egyptian cotton blush. Perhaps the best sign that it’s worth your time are the indie-world controversies it’s managed to spawn: none. White people are staying pretty hands-off with this one, though there’s no reason to: the mixtape aligns the MC with worthy young producers, largely Clams Casino and Spaceghost Purrp, whose pillowy backdrops make Washed Out look as progressive as 1999 Moby (Washed Out also makes Washed Out look as progressive as 1999 Moby). That the decaying loops of a song such as “Demons” are the stomping grounds for any current MC is a mark of hip-hop’s continuing evolution, and throughout, the beats are the highlight.
Rocky himself has a stoned, athletic flow — #MichaelPhelps — but not much to say beyond throwaway lines considering drugs, money and “bad bitches.” The weaker tracks are still interesting curiosities, Southern rap syrup poured into Weeknd synth-hedonism, but they bog down a set that saves its finest banger, “Out of This World,” for last. (When he says “my bitch is the rudest” on “Out of This World,” is it an Achewood reference? Is he the first MC to rap about a web comic?) Rocky’s hardly the savior of rap, but it’s a solid effort. If you need a soundtrack for getting Taco Bell during 5th period, this is your jam.
A$AP Rocky – “Out of This World”: mp3
(Download the mixtape from A$AP Rocky’s site)