Testing, by A$AP Rocky
Suggested by Krystian Musztafa
The single thing I know about A$AP Rocky? That Noel Gallagher once accidentally called him Whatsapp Ricky.
Considering the rap game’s obsession with names, I’m surprised A$AP didn’t kick off. Sure, he’s not Snoop, but there are a few instances of self-reference in Testing, most noticeably in the Moby-sampling track ASAP Forever. This, by the way, is my standout song.
I thought I’d best mention that early, because this album is hot garbage.
(Also, yesterday I reviewed an album by the rapper Aesop Rock. Today, it’s A$AP Rocky. Tomorrow, I fully expect it to be Eesoup Rick, followed by Oh$alt Ruggie, and on and on until we’ve cycled through every combination of letters and symbols known to man.)
Musically, Testing has a laid-back, almost lo0fi feel, with sparse arrangements of bass and clicky tin drums accompanying the mellow samples incorporated throughout. It’s trippy, almost psychedelic in places, and a far cry from the more incendiary rattling tracks from rappers with more rage in their game. It’s pleasant enough, but it feels like the flimsiest of supports for a vocal foundation; one shake of a strut and the roof will collapse around us.
As for rapping style, A$AP Rocky feels anaemic compared to the dense, cultured beats of those on the project that have preceded him. His flow feels rudimentary, mirroring the bassline and stressing with the snare, not quite in the Beastie Boys college frat-rap mould but nothing that makes my ears prick up in surprise. Lyrically, it’s sounds like the same old schtick churned out by the pack, with injustices and money and sex and weed and so forth. And again, I can only offer my standard This Is Not My Truth, This Is Not My Reality decree while I stifle my yawn.
To complement the lo-fi musical style, A$AP Rocky adopts a lo-fi rapping style too. There’s very little energy in his delivery, it’s all understatement and whisper-rap and general conversational tone. While this means the music isn’t at odds with the words, it’s not exactly dynamic. In places it sounds as if the talent is on a break and has been replaced by a passing bloke off the street, reading off an autocue.
Testing scores a lowly 3/10 from me. I’d be fine if I never heard another A$AP Rocky track in my life. I named ASAP Forever as my favourite track because I liked the Moby sample it uses, which sums things up perfectly and leaves nothing more to say.