At times exciting but ultimately patchy return...

At long last, A$AP Rocky has returned with the follow-up to his major label debut.

'Long.Live.A$AP' was released at the beginning of 2013, and since then, plenty has changed for Rocky. Musically, perhaps the most notable change is a more polished sound that marks a slight departure from his previous material. The cutting lyrical flow that's become so acclaimed is still present and has somehow grown even stronger, however despite its ambition nothing from 'At.Long.Last.A$AP' manages to tread the same hip-hop neo-anthem territory as his last album's best work.

Opening with a grand return, 'Holy Ghost' discusses religion while channelling A$AP's omnipotent lyrical flow. 'L$D' is a trippy ode to Rocky's new 'creative' drug of choice, which - surprisingly - features absolutely no rapped vocals. As for the collaborations, Kanye appears on 'Jukebox Joints', a soul-inspired number that witnesses two of the most fashion-connected rappers in the industry working together. However, his verse fails to meet expectations and sounds sub-par, especially compared to A$AP's impressive input with a flow that actually channels a young Kanye.

Even more surprising is the highly unexpected collaboration with Rod Stewart, whose sampled vocals completely take over 'Everyday'. The track also featuring Miguel as well as another hard-hitting delivery from A$AP, before the emotional 'Back Home' offers a climactic finale to the LP. Featuring what could rank as Rocky's finest delivery of the whole 18-track collection, he harks back towards the days before his rapid fame and fortune as he remembers his Harlem roots.

The most touching moment on the album arrives as a tribute to his recently deceased friend and mentor A$AP Yams, featuring a verse from the artist himself, allowing Yams to offer a final farewell as a fitting tribute to his imprint upon the illustrious A$AP Mob.

As a collected body of work 'At.Long.Last.A$AP' is far from dreadful, but taken as a whole it lacks the elements of depth and star quality that - having set the bar incredibly high with his debut - many expect from A$AP Rocky.


Words: Jonathan Hatchman

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