The roundtable in hip-hop's current kingdom reserves most of its thrones for MCs like Drake and Kendrick Lamar self-flagellating rappers who storm the battlefield with a quiver full of emotional arrows. Comparatively speaking, Harlem mixtape hero A$AP Rocky is a court jester, defiantly celebrating champagne and strippers. In his hands, though, those radio-baller clichés evolve into contagious comic relief: When Drake drops by on ''F---in' Problems,'' it sounds like he hasn't had this much fun since the last Degrassi wrap party.
In Long.Live.A$AP, Rocky spends ample time laying out his life philosophy on heady, hazy thumpers ''Goldie'' and ''PMW (All I Really Need)'' the M stands for ''money,'' the rest is unprintable his major-label debut proves he's more than a magnetic hedonist. On ''Suddenly,'' over a murky swirl of haunting vocal samples Rocky matter-of-factly recounts the bleak fates of the guests at a backyard barbecue. ''This ain't no consciousness rap,'' he warns, but still, it's a stark portrait of how rare it is to bust out of a neighborhood where ''Everybody had roaches/But our roaches ain't respect us.'' Think of Rocky as a storyteller in the Louis C.K. mold: inspired goofballery that peels away to reveal real truths underneath. A
PMW (All I Really Need)