...an all-encompassing in-house strength.

Hip-hop is on a constant lion-like quest for fresh feed. Through periods of ‘talent famine’ it will feast indiscriminately on what’s new. But 2012 has been abundant and so it’s had the opportunity to taste the rich man’s acquired meats. Danny Brown’s jaw grinding toughness, the California sun-dried jerky of ScHoolboy Q and the slow baked ‘Mysterious Phonk’ of SpaceGhostPurrp. What’s missing this year is a collaborative Italian anti-pasti platter.

Such is his domination, it’s unbeknownst to some that the A$AP emblem isn’t his personal epithet but indicative of his collective, A$AP Mob. The collaborative mixtape 'Lord$ Never Worry' begins with an affirmation to those ignorant of this and maybe even an oblique apology for his solo excess ‘Rocky where you been?’, I been thuggin’ with my team, hoe’. This album is a chance to prove that talent is the collectivising force of the group, not some false sense of strength in numbers.

It is proved but only in a levelling sense. Rocky is ‘here’, but the other’s are seated somewhere in an, albeit comfortable, purgatory. They don’t all possess the same understated flash at the mic as Rocky. A$AP Twelvyy could be an exception though, as he finds a way to rise above this no-where realm and level up to dominating araabMUZIK production on ‘Y.N.R.E’. The freelance addition of the mob’s contemporaries, namely Danny Brown with his Tourette’s like spouting (which is however deceptively thought out) on ‘Coke and White Bitches’, helps lift the album above mediocrity.

But the definitive factor of ASAP Mob, and the best hip-hop collectives, is an all- encompassing in-house strength. A$AP Ty Beats is the mob’s producer, responsible for the SpaceGhostPurrp featuring Rocky track ‘Purple Swag’. On 'Lord$ Never Worry', he re-illustrates his mellow sounds, analogous to the group's drug of choice, codeine, on ‘Bangin’ on Wax’ and ‘Gotham City’.

It’s been a while since the focus was on hard-hitting, unashamed production. The success of 'Lord$ Never Know' is testament to these talented producers more so than it’s lyrical terror, whether it’s the aforementioned araabMUZIK’s and Ty Beats additions to Silky Johnson’s cloud-hop influences on ‘Thuggin Noise’. A savoured moment for east-side hip-hop fans will be Clams Casino produced ‘Freeze’, which sees Harlem’s anti-protagonist Jim Jones return with his geographic and now artistic neighbour. Though possessing tired spots, 'Lord$ Never Worry' is helping to re-circle this, up ‘til recently, artistically deserted city.


Words by Michelle Kambasha

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