For once, it’s not just Rocky making music on behalf of Harlem’s A$AP Mob. Resident Mob crooner A$AP Ferg releases his full-length debut, Trap Lord, an LP that has highs and lows but focuses solely on him. As always, let us know what you think in the comments.
1. Well, You Can Never Go Wrong With A 13-Track LP.
Seriously. We’ll prevent beating around the bush and reveal the nutgraf: Trap Lord‘s good–not brilliant like A$AP Mob thinks it is, but it’s definitely not horrible. That sounds like a 40-degree-day analysis, but keep in mind that an album that’s as–how do you say it?–“ratchety,” sparse and polarizing as Trap Lord (disregarding “Hood Pope” and “Cocaine Castle”) becomes grating if it rambles past an hour. Ferg hit his marks and then got the f*ck out by the time “Cocaine Castle” petered out.
2. Or Selling The Whole Damn Thing Off A Handful Of Great Singles.
Ferg and A$AP Mob hit upon some platonic ideal for simplistic, uber-addictive hook making when they created “Work” and “Shabba.” The rhyming, admittedly, is passable in each, but those production and hooks. Holy hell. “Shabba” works up some deranged cartoonish beat that somehow fits perfectly alongside the repetitive chanting of “Sha-, Shabba Ranks,” while “Work” (originally featured on last year’s A$AP Mob Lords Never Worry tape) occupies that loud trap single of the year spot, featuring damn near everyone and the best disgruntled-post-graduate mantra ever: “put in work, put in work.”
But let’s also not forget the album’s wildcard, VERYRVRE-produced single, “Hood Pope,” with its hazy bounce and guttural tracks like “Dump Dump,” which, again, sell this album’s being very loud and very “I could give a f*ck.”
3. But Here’s The Thing With That…
It leaves the rest of the album as filler. Granted, it’s hard not to see Ferg’s influences shine through: he double-times with the (purported, depending on if you’re from Chicago or not) originators of the genre, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and snaps into bombastic conversation on the Waka Flocka Flame-assisted “Murder Something.” But you never get the feeling that these songs are must-plays. They’re just points that lead up to the album’s singles like “Shabba” or “Dump Dump.”
4. It’s, Surprisingly, Very Much A Solo Album.
The A$AP Mob guys must have confidence in Ferg because seven of the 13 tracks see Ferg going it alone. With a network that includes Rocky and outsiders-as-Mob-members such as ScHoolBoy Q, Flatbush Zombies and many in between, it’d be easy to tie a featured guest spot to nearly every song. But Trap Lord‘s very much Ferg’s show. While the whole thing sounds incredibly similar, listeners get little tidbits of introspection from Ferg, especially on “Cocaine Castle.”
Ferg in his signature croon laments, “one hit is all you need, that n*gga gon’ take your life/What about your wife? What about your kids?” It sort of buoys Eric Sunderman’s Noisey Q&A with Ferg where the rapper comes off more as a self-aware striver than a Rocky hanger-on. There is–at least in parts of Trap Lord–an artistic vision, even if some songs are clunky and push the same Mob bromides of b*tches, weed and money.
5. It’s a start.
Apparently, A$AP Mob’s not entirely a one-trick pony. That’s bad news for the haters and infuriating news for the ambivalent, but Trap Lord’s enjoyable. It can slog at times like debuts are wont to do, but it also has plenty for fans and rap enthusiasts to rally around. Disregarding “Shabba” and “Work”–two songs which, at this point, should become esteemed members of the “turnt up” pantheon–Ferg showcases enough versatility to propel himself past weed-carrier status. The best part for Ferg–and worst for the aforementioned detractors–is that the sky’s the limit now.
Label: ASAP Worldwide, Polo Grounds, RCA | Producers: A$AP Ferg, (exec.), A$AP Rocky (exec.), A$AP Yams (exec.), Bryan Leach (co-exec.), Geno Sims (co-exec.), Highdefrazjah, Snugsworth, Chinza, Crystal Caines, Finatik N Zac, Fly Beats, Frankie P, High Class Filth, Jim Jonsin’, Napolian, Ozhora Miyagi, P On The Boards, Rico Love, Versa Beatz, Veryrvre