Written Before Review
This has to be one of my favorite mixtapes ever. Honestly. I’m so glad it’s on streaming services. I love how psychedelic and cloudy nearly every song is and it’s also during a time where cloud rap was at its peak. We had Lil B, Spaceghostpurrp, and Curren$y all making great music and A$AP Rocky might’ve been the best one (other than Lil B). I also think this is the project that defines that mixtape era of 2010-2012. With that being said, let’s get into it.
A lot of this mixtapes magic is throughout the production. Rocky brought a small team of producers as they all make the most psychedelic and warped-out beats. Clams Casino is the big star of this mixtape as the 4 beats he produces on this mixtape are 4 of the best. “Palace” is an amazing grand opening with a cinematic sample. “Bass” is very slow, simple, and trippy and so is “Demons”. “Wassup” is also an amazing beat in its own right too. A$AP Ty Beatz produced the big two tracks on this mixtape and those tracks are the mixtape era classics “Peso” and “Purple Swag”. Beautiful Lou produces the two most old-school-sounding tracks with “Trilla” and “Kissin Pink” and both tracks (especially) “Trilla” is a great song to ride your car around in the winter. DJ Burn One makes two of the bouncier cuts on this tape as “Houston Old Head” and “Roll One Up” are two modern sounds tracks with a heavy-hitting bounce with it. Overall, the production on this tape is a 10/10. Nearly every beat is amazing and A$AP rides on it perfectly.
There aren’t many features on this tape, but the ones that show up have a big impact on the tape. “Brand New Guy” with Schoolboy Q shows how top-level Q can be on features with legendary one-liners as well as a dope trade-off. The two SpaceGhostPurrp features showcase the influence that SGP has on Rocky. The A$AP Nast features are the hint of New York that this mixtape as he is more lyrical than Rocky. A$AP Ferg on “Kissin Pink” shows the future chemistry that the two A$AP Mob members would have on later releases. As you can see, Rocky carefully chose his features when it comes to the aesthetic of this tape. I will assure you that it worked.
A$AP Rocky is far from hiding his influences. The biggest influence is obviously Houston Hip Hop but also Lil B. I wouldn’t say you’d be blind if you don’t see the Lil B influence, but this mixtape is like all of Lil B’s strongest influences in one. The atmospheric beats, the drugged-out lyricism, and the heavy internet devotion. Wu-Tang is also an influence that no one else seems to see other than me. The reason I say that is because of how dark, underground yet accessible both artists are. I will also say that the impact of this mixtape made the blueprint for modern underground hip hop acts like Flatbush Zombies and Underachievers. I think A$AP Rocky takes both old school aesthetics and new school aesthetics in its best direction. There’s a reason that it’s aged so well.
Time Of Release
This mixtape came out on the Halloween of 2011. That hints at something. Not only the ode to Stankonia this mixtape has (the Halloween release, the American release, etc) but also the fact that this style was undeveloped at the time. The only people that were doing this style before Rocky were Lil B and SmokePurrp. Even then, Lil B was making something new and forward-thinking. SpaceGhostPurrp’s main influence was Memphis culture. Rocky was taking music that was straight out of Houston. Not even modern Houston acts of that time, Houston acts from the 90s. I’ll also like to exaggerate that this album came out in 2011. The generation that Rocky grew up in was the ever-developing internet age. Youtube came out when Rocky was 16. MySpace was big when Rocky was 19. Those two social media platforms were very big for music. Not only for musicians but for music listeners. If you had YouTube, you could just search “90s hip hop” and get millions of results. The generation Rocky was in was one of the first generations to be through that. There was no reason for Rocky to be fully Boom Bap. He knew his Houston hip hop and wanted to do that style. I’m pretty sure that worked perfectly for him.
The only thing I will say is that the style does get redundant at some times, especially on the song “Acid Drip”. I’ve listened to that song so many times and I barely remember how the beat or flow sounded. Other than that, LIVE.LOVE.A$AP still sounds fresh today.
Wow, what a mixtape. So laid back, so ethereal, psychedelic, lavish, and many more adjectives. A$AP Rocky knew what he was doing and the producers perfected that. What a fucking mixtape.