When Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky released “A$AP Forever” in early April, fans were ecstatic to hear new music from Mr. Lord Pretty Flocko Jodye himself.
‘Testing’ is the first solo album A$AP released three years after the death of his friend and creator of A$AP Mob, A$AP Yams.
A$AP Rocky is no stranger to stepping outside the box of the rap industry. It shows from his eclectic style to his range of sound from dirty-south trap to dubstep.
‘Testing’ says it all of A$AP’s motive to create a new wave of sound. However, ‘Testing’ can be described as an experiment that has gone wrong.
Some of the tests in ‘Testing’ land favorably. On “Praise The Lord (Da Shine)” featuring U.K. rapper Skepta, A$AP Rocky brings hyperconfident lyricism that matches his collaborator’s energetic delivery. The interplay between the sharp flute sample and unceasing synth chords cements the track among other songs on the album. This lively sound is similar in “Buck Shots” featuring Playboi Carti and Smooky MarGielaa. The blares of the trumpet and booming bass fuses into an unavoidable head-bopping track.
However, when A$AP Rocky reverts to melancholic reverb—which defined ‘At.Long.Last.A$AP’— A$AP’s creative vision becomes muddled. While “CALLDROPS” features a dreamy guitar sample from 1969’s “Morning Sun” by Dave Bixby, it’s a psychedelic, slow mess that’s jumbled up with mumbled lyrics.
A$AP Rocky struggles to keep up with the clever samples in most of his songs. “Gunz N Butter” was supposed to be another great trap record featuring the Memphis legend Juicy J like “Multiply”. “Gunz N Butter” samples Project Pat’s “Still Ridin Clean” and “Jump Out The Face” featuring Meek Mill and Future. Yet, A$AP Rocky fails to live up to the gritty track with his flows. The smooth piano in “Brotha Man” that samples “Intermission” by Lee Fields was another sweet sample in ‘Testing’. However, it doesn’t seem to blend with A$AP Rocky’s switch of regular to low-pitched raps.
A$AP Rocky managed to succeed in one song in particular, “Kids Turned Out Fine”. He was able to capture a great nostalgic feeling while integrating experimental breaks between choruses and verses, assuring that the new generation will be alright:
“I heard about all of the long trials in life / All the drugs on my mind /All the troubles I can find / Still I smile / The kids will be alright, just fine /All the colors are alive / No longer black or white, ahh.”
“Fukk Sleep” is another successful song where A$AP doesn’t lose his Pretty Flocko style, depicting the rot beneath a life of excess:
“I remember I was poor and /When I was young and living homeless /Now I rock the Ricky Owens /Eyes lookin’ like he rollin’/ Got new bags under my eyelids /New bags up in my closets.”
His chorus along with surprise guest FKA Twigs ethereal verse creates a sublime pairing that plays to both of their darkly seductive instincts to haunting effect.
‘Testing’ is not an absolutely terrible album. Still, it’s not good enough from A$AP Rocky considering his delivery on both volumes of A$AP Mob ‘Cozy Tapes’ and previous albums. The album has more lows than highs and might be one of A$AP’ weakest releases to date. It’s an album that you’ll listen to every now and then, but it is definitely not a memorable album from the Lord Pretty Flocko Joyde we know.
Stream/Download A$AP Rocky’s Testing: