Album Review: A$AP Rocky’s Latest Breaks Mold

JESS NEWBERG ’20 It’s been four years since Harlem-based rap group, A$AP Mob, released their debut mixtape, “Lord$ Never Worry.” During this time, both the face of the movement, A$AP
It’s been four years since Harlem-based rap group, A$AP Mob, released their debut mixtape, “Lord$ Never Worry.” During this time, both the face of the movement, A$AP Rocky and later successor, A$AP Ferg, have released new highly acclaimed studio albums that earned the group their fame. In addition to this, the group faced the unforeseen, devastating loss of their “guiding light,” producer and fellow member A$AP Yams to a drug overdose in 2015. The death of A$AP Yams influenced the work in both A$AP Ferg and A$AP Rocky’s individual projects. However, although arguably one of the most impressive mixtapes within the decade, the group’s follow-up project, “Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends” seems to be just an addition to the A$AP Rocky catalog despite the fact that it is a collective A$AP Mob piece.
It’s no surprise that Rocky is the main focus of this project. He was the first of the group, consisting of other fellow rappers and childhood friends — A$AP Ferg, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Ant, and A$AP Nast — to receive high-profile, commercial success in the music industry. His talent has yet to be matched by anyone else within the Mob. Although the appearances from Ferg, Twelvyy, Ant, and Nast are important to note, this mixtape makes it clear that Rocky is still the driving talent and force of the group’s success.
Rocky’s performance on “Cozy Tapes” has been deemed to be his greatest work to date since his 2013 debut album, “LONG.LIVE.A$AP.” and subsequent 2015 album, “AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.” Rocky’s confidence in this mixtape is unprecedented, which could be attributed to the fact he no longer has to prove himself as a rapper — like he had to in 2013 — and is no longer mourning the loss of A$AP Yams, as expressed in 2015. On tracks such as “Crazy Brazy,” the song, like many, is completely dominated by A$AP Rocky, despite also featuring fellow Mob members. “Crazy Brazy” is one of A$AP Rocky’s most impressive pieces of music to date. This kind of prominence appears throughout the majority of this mixtape in other stand-out tracks such as, “Money Man,” “London Town,” and “Young N**** Living.”
However, Rocky’s constant appearances throughout this mixtape are anything but hackneyed. If anything Rocky’s presence in
“Cozy Tapes” is one of the most natural aspects to this project. Within each track he is featured on, Rocky is able to bring something new to the table. But what makes these three particular tracks so impressive is not only Rocky’s appearance itself, but the other members’ ability to highlight and exemplify his talent within these tracks. This cohesion is probably the most impressive aspect of the project. Although Rocky may be the focal point within these songs, fellow Mob members make it clear that their talent as a collective unit is worth noting as well.
For the first time since his previous albums, Rocky strays from his theme of constantly rapping about clothes, jewelry, or other material goods over beats that, in many cases, were unfitting. Rocky’s complete control of production in this project allowed him to give this mixtape the fraternal, easy-going, fun-loving vibe that is the embodiment of the entire A$AP Mob movement.
Although failing to establish the same artistic-individuality as A$AP Rocky, or even A$AP Ferg, for the other Mob members — Twelvy, Nast and Ant — “Cozy Tapes” is still a formidable mixtape in its own right. In this project, A$AP Mob challenges the idea of what it means to be a “rap group,” as defined by legendary artists such as Wu-Tang Clan, Odd Future, and A Tribe Called Quest. The group makes its clear that having Rocky as the main focus and other Mob members in the background works just as well and cohesively as the old system of equality in trade-off of appearances and air time. A$AP Rocky’s talent is what seamlessly fills the gaps created by the other members’ weaknesses, and by doing so, shines a light on the group’s unique creativity and artistry as one unbreakable bond of brothers.

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