Polo Grounds Music/RCA Records
As if being named after '80s hip hop’s most influential rapper wasn’t enough pressure on Rakim Mayers’ young shoulders, the delays that clogged the release of this big label debut mean Harlem’s own pretty motherfucker has a lot to live up to. By and large, it doesn’t fully deliver on the promise of A$AP Mob’s stoned’n’swagged 2011 mixtape ‘Live.Love.A$AP’, but Rocky’s decision to cleave himself from the likes of the terminally moronic A$AP Ant has proved a wise move.
Three outrageously bad tracks soil the mid-section of the album: the dopey ‘Fashion Killa’, the Skrillex-produced ‘Wild For The Night’ (in fairness, no more gruesome than you’d expect) and then the utterly risible ‘Fuckin’ Problems’, in which Kendrick Lamar, Drake and the ubiquitous 2 Chainz provide a modish chorus line as Rocky undoes all his good work as hip hop’s self-styled anti-homophobia ambassador with the unforgivable line, “Turn a dyke bitch out, have her fucking boys.”
But there are stunners too: the Clams Casino-produced ‘LVL’ and ‘Hell’, the bumping ‘1 Train’, featuring stonking verses from underground heroes Action Bronson, Yelawolf and Joey Bada$$, and a later quintet of gloomy and dissonant tracks like the sumptuous, Wu Tang-alike ‘Suddenly’.
He’s diluted his artistic credentials to gain broader appeal, but Rocky’s preternaturally charismatic and agile flow makes this patchy album something far more compelling.