A$AP Rocky - 'Testing' Review
Pop-Rap legend A$AP Rocky became a household name seemingly overnight after his debut mixtape Live. Love. A$AP blew up in 2011 establishing Rocky and the A$AP collective as a creative force to be reckoned with.
Since then, Rocky has consistently produced interesting and catchy commercial rap that helped bring the sound of New York Hip-Hop to radio stations. However, as a fan of Rocky I’ve always found that while his projects provide consistent bangers I think he would work better with shorter, 9 or 10 track albums as his projects feel oversaturated with dull, filler songs. On TESTING Rocky once again fulfils his legacy of creating a catchy and banging album with 4 or 5 redundant or uninteresting songs that make the middle portion of the record feel like a chore to listen through.
That might seem like an overly harsh comment for an album that I actually really like, however Rocky and other Hip-Hop artists need to do away with the 15+ track album and instead go for a higher quality, tighter project, quality over quantity is the oldest rule in art after all. Anyway, rant over, let’s get into the review. The opening track ‘Distorted Records’ is an abrasive, Yeezus and Death Grips inspired gitchy banger setting the tone for a much darker and creepier sound from Rocky, one that persists through the course of the 15 tracks on TESTING. This dark sound is perfected on tracks ‘**** Sleep‘, featuring the incredible and ghostly vocals of Fka Twigz and ‘Hun43rd’ towards the end of the album. As with most of Rocky’s projects, the highlights here are on the production over the rapping, with production contributions by DJ Khalil and Devonté Hynes aka Blood Orange. Some of the best production on the record comes from Grime legend Skepta on ‘Praise the Lord (Da Shine)’ one of my favourite songs on here with it’s ‘Zelda’-esque pan flute lead that is hard not to bob your head to.
This isn’t to say that Rocky’s rapping isn’t a highlight as his flow and wordplay on ‘A$AP Forever’ is impressive to say the least, however despite a few outlying examples, Rocky stays very much within his comfort zone throughout TESTING, especially on some of the tracks in the middle stretch of the record such as on ‘Buck Shots’ where his flow and lyrics are just plain boring. Many of the problems with this album lie in the middle of the tracklist as songs like ‘Busckshots’ and ‘Brotha Man’ are just not interesting enough to engage you. The album picks up again towards the end with the introspective ‘Changes’ and finally the calming ‘Purity’ with the heavenly vocals of Frank Ocean making it difficult to hate this soft and tender closing track.
While this album does overstay it’s welcome in some spots, Rocky has some of the most banging and off-the-wall production in commercial Hip-Hop proving on TESTING that he is still the most interesting artist in Pop-Rap without compromising his unconventional style.
Check out the album here: