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A$ap Rocky 5/25/2018

Review

While his endless charisma and effortlessly confident delivery were the hallmarks of Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky's chart-topping songs, there were hints of budding experimentation even in his earliest tracks. Songs defined by murky, narcotic production choices showed up alongside the most by-the-numbers club bangers on 2013 debut LONG.LIVE.A$AP, and its reflective 2015 follow-up AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP, had moments that bordered on dream pop. Third album Testing pushes A$AP's experimental impulses to the forefront, expanding his boundary-pushing tendencies into the album's mission statement. There's an immediate feeling of creative abandon in the swell of subsonic bass that opens the record and leads into the messy, swimming "Distorted Records." Fragmented vocal samples, quick left-turns mid-song, and barely contained tape echo show up over and over again. This can be as subtle as the dub-like delays on lead single "A$AP Forever" or as extreme as the Kodak Black-assisted "CALLDROPS." Built on a looping sample of obscure acid folk artist Dave Bixby, the mellow, beatless meditation is more a distant sound collage than anything you'd hear on a mainstream rap record. "Gunz N Butter," featuring Juicy J, meets somewhere in the middle of unfettered experimentation and predictable hip-hop production, with A$AP delivering metered verses between disjointed vocal samples and randomly placed gunshot sound effects. Testing often feels like an uneasy dream, and this feeling is added to by the sometimes awkward sway toward more personal lyrical content. On "OG Beeper," nostalgic remembrances of troubled younger days are buried beneath an anxious beat, and the warped and woozy "Kids Turned Out Fine" inverts this perspective, looking at the troubles of the next generation. "Changes" melts in and out of cloudy, overblown musical segments and clearly spoken sections, inspecting rejection, insecurity, and depression with a startling level of vulnerability. The album title Testing refers to testing new sounds and pushing in new directions in hopes of growth. Songs like the gorgeous Frank Ocean collaboration "Purity," or the darkly simmering "Fukk Sleep" featuring FKA Twigs, take risks that push A$AP Rocky to new, exciting territory, and open new doors for what could come next. ~ Fred Thomas
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Distorted Records A$ap Rocky 2:20
  3. 2 A$AP Forever [Remix] A$ap Rocky 5:15
  4. 3 Tony Tone A$ap Rocky 3:27
  5. 4 Fukk Sleep A$ap Rocky 3:13
  6. 5 Praise the Lord (Da Shine) A$ap Rocky 3:25
  7. 6 CALLDROPS A$ap Rocky 2:42
  8. 7 Buck Shots A$ap Rocky 2:46
  9. 8 Gunz N Butter A$ap Rocky 3:32
  10. 9 Brotha Man A$ap Rocky 3:35
  11. 10 OG Beeper A$ap Rocky 2:36
  12. 11 Kids Turned Out Fine A$ap Rocky 3:3
  13. 12 Hun43rd A$ap Rocky 4:2
  14. 13 Changes A$ap Rocky 5:13
  15. 14 Black Tux, White Collar A$ap Rocky 2:42
  16. 15 Purity A$ap Rocky 4:20

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