Last Friday A$AP Rocky finally put his beloved debut mixtape, LIVE.LOVE.A$AP onto streaming services for the ten year anniversary of its release. The singles Peso and Purple Swag were both released for the mixtape initially and were the only two tracks to be put on Spotify. He also added a new track Sandman to the acclaimed mixtape where he channels his early self. With Rocky being one of my favorite artists I was ecstatic to see this getting put on streaming, and am so thrilled to have it in my rotation.
The intro Palace has a grand, crucial instrumental with enchanting background vocals, and it evolves to be consequential. Rocky floats over this angelic instrumental, paying homage to the sound of Harlem and Houston alike. His flow switches are smooth and he uses his vocal register really well. Palace is an intoxicating start to one of, if not the best cloud rap/psychadellic hip-hop records ever. Rocky brings the authority on the trippy beat of Peso, his first single ever, which is laced with chimes. He drops memorable bars and clever one liners that make Peso worth the listen every single time. In classic Rocky fashion he does a great job of balancing his slick braggadocious flow and hallucinogenic soundscapes perfectly. Like this title implies on the next track, Bass, there are heavy 808s woven into the minimalist but flashy instrumental. Rocky's flow is strong and he has some playful bars too and the song ends up being just as trippy as the others but with a little more impact.
On Wassup Rocky's dreamy chorus bleeds perfectly into the lighthearted atmosphere. His delivery on the verses are more emphatic as he raps with his heart. His verses are great but they don't quite don't quite live up to the chorus that is complementary of everything in this mixtape. Rocky sticks with his slick flow and has clever rhymes and boastful bars on Brand New Guy. He raps about feeling like a whole new man after finding fame, with ScHoolboy Q giving a great feature to follow him up. Q sounds hungry as ever with a vicious delivery. He brings some great bars and fun flow switches that feel a bit out of place in this clouded, lucid environment but he is still a welcome addition especially when him and Rocky get to trading bars. The original Purple Swag is not nearly as good as the remix but the beat is just as intense and fun. Rocky brings the same energy in his verses and gives us another dreamy chorus as well.
Get Lit has one of the most psychadellic instrumentals on the album, and Rocky's dreamy bridge and booming down-pitched chorus only adds to it. Rocky brings his distinct smoothness and incredible flow to the track and utilizes his vocal capabilities for a great second verse in a higher pitched tone. The Western styled instrumental on Trilla has some strong guitar chords but still melts into the psychadellic soundscape of the rest of the tape. Rocky gives one of his best verses on the record with high velocity and intricate rhyme schemes. A$AP Nast and A$AP Twelvyy keep up the pace and both deliver eccentric verses that fit well with the song. Keep It G has the same trippy aesthetic but with a dominant saxophone in the instrumental that jazzes up Rocky's sound. He comes through with a disrespectful and aggressive verse and flow that are contrasted heavily by his dreamy bridge, that is contrasted yet again by SpaceGhostPurrp's bodacious chorus. He also gives a great verse with more aggression and disdain than Rocky.
The instrumental of Houston Old Head is super dynamic, clouded and dreamy, and is likely the best beat on the whole mixtape. Rocky blends right into it with his bouncy flow and fluctuating vocals. The passionate and hypnotic sense of the track makes it one of Rocky's best efforts yet. Acid Drip is another hallucinogenic cut where Rocky uses his vocal range to heighten the experience of the track. He switches his flow several times as he raps about tripping on psychadellics and the progression of the track captures it nearly perfectly. Leaf has an eerie and atmospheric instrumental and Rocky is once again flowing like it is no one's business. The progression of the beat and Rocky's lackadaisical delivery make this a top tier anthem for stoners. Main Attrakionz gives two good verses with a more robust delivery than Rocky, and despite feeling out of place in this lighthearted, dreamy soundscape they are enjoyable nonetheless.
Rolle One Up is a higher paced track with chords similar to that of Keep It G but the same psychadellic atmosphere of the rest of the album. Rocky's flow is fast and constantly changing as he drops some vivid and clever bars. His chorus is dreamy and intoxicating and like the others, blends right into the instrumental. Similar to his later track Suddenly, Demons is a track where Rocky is getting deep and personal in well written verses, rapping about fighting his demons. He sings an incredibly emotional chorus that is just beautiful and the atmosphere is super trippy and holds a lot of emotional weight with it. Sandman is a new track from Rocky but the production on it meshes very well with the rest of the mixtape with a cloudy instrumental and similar drum patterns. Rocky's flow switches are awesome and his rhymes great as well, and the way he uses his voice to hit the high notes in the chorus makes for one of his best ever.
LIVE.LOVE.A$AP is an incredible cloudrap/psychadellic hip hop mixtape, and one of the best of all time. The production on the LP is out of this world, mostly by Clams Casino, and really put Rocky in a lane of his own as no one has even tried to do what he has done. His distinct voice, smooth flows and dreamy singing on the tape do nothing but build the trippy atmosphere up even more. Although lyricism is not the main focus of this album Rocky is able to get personal at times, as well as deliver plenty of funny one liners and boast his confidence, wealth and good looks. Even ten years later this album sounds ahead of its time and really set Rocky apart from anyone else, allowing him to become one of the most important artist's of the 2010's.