From the epic opening strains of “Palace”, the first song off of A$AP Rocky’s 2011 debut mixtape Live. Love. A$AP, you can tell that the A$AP Mob had big intentions. Clams Casino’s sampling of Karl Jenkins’ chanty “Adiemus” sets up a magnificent, imperial backdrop for Rocky’s statement of purpose which he delivers in an intoxicating mix of nonsense, comedy, legit rhymes and OG cool. Ignorant, stoned and violent, Rocky name drops hip hop lifestyle choices like a to-do list. Lean-sipping, check. Drug dealin’, check. Lady killlin’, check. Gold grill, check. The mixtape dropped in October and true to Rocky’s word, it actually was “better than a lot of people’s albums.” Unlike the bougie luxury rap of Jay and Kanye’s Watch the Throne or the drunken, late-night proselytizing on Drake’s Take Care, Rocky hued more to the unbridled id of Tyler the Creator’s Goblin and Wiz Khalifa’s blunt-toking, come-up odyssey Rolling Papers, all of which were released in 2011. Unlike Lil Wayne who swore off the sizzurp in 2009, Rocky glorified the purple drank on songs like “Kissin’ Pink” which incidentally produced one of the year’s funniest verses from another member of the A$AP Mob, A$AP Ferg.
Other A$AP members featured on the mixtape included A$AP Nast and A$AP Twelvy with additional production by A$AP Ty Beats. The mixtape led to a $1.7 million deal for Rocky’s solo work and $1.3 million for A$AP Worldwide. The A$AP Mob then released the poorly reviewed Lords Never Worry mixtape in August 2012 that included the standout tracks “Work” and “Bath Salt.”
More money meant bigger names and radio ready singles on Rocky’s first proper studio album, 2013’s Long. Live. A$AP. Production by Hit Boy, Danger Mouse, Clams Casino and Skrillex and posse cuts featuring Drake, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and a whole slew of other up and coming rappers pushed Rocky into the mainstream and set up A$AP Ferg’s upcoming August 2013 debut Trap Lord. In hip hop, “The Trap” refers to the place where drugs are bought and sold, but Ferg has said that the album will only be loosely based on the “Trap” style. Both Ferg and Rocky are featured on the Trap Lord single “Shabba.” Trap Lord is due out August 20. You can catch A$AP Rocky and Wiz Khalifa in concert on Under the Influence of Music tour dates through 8/11.