After months of teasing and anticipation, A$AP Rocky puts out his long-awaited third studio album TESTING.
The fifteen track project features guest appearances from T.I, Kid Cudi, Moby, Puff Daddy, FKATwigs, Skepta, Frank Ocean, Kodak Black, Playboi Carti, Smooky MarGiella and Dev Hynes. In the days leading to its release, A$AP Rocky boasts about testing new sounds on this album. He is on a mission to create classic and trippy sounds that hasn’t been heard before. Although this is A$AP Rocky’s first album without A$AP Yam’s supervision, he makes sure he delivers quality in high dose.
In an interview with Complex he said “It wasn’t the same without Yams, it’s like a legacy that loses its pioneer. Yams is like a spirit, an energy. I think I have to do what Puff did when Biggy died or anybody who loses somebody”. A$AP Rocky also talked about working with Kanye, Tyler The Creator and Hector on this project and touched on how amazing the creative process was.
In truth, this album puts A$AP Rocky on a different level from other rappers of his generation.
He has succeeded in sealing a signature of A$AP forever in the hiphop milestone.
In some tracks, he’s either hopping on a jiggy beat and some other tracks, he is sounding like Rakim and maintaining a calculative flow on a meditative beat. The album opens with Distorted Records. The track opens up with the sounds of a worn out speaker undergoing testing process. A$AP Rocky hops on the hard bass and electro beat which in turn creates a fusion that causes a real distorted record. He raps through with his signature flow of equal syllables on each lines.
In A$AP Forever.
We were welcomed by T.I’s intro where he describes the full meaning of A$AP (Always Striving and Prosper) and pays homage to Big Phil and Yams. This is a remix of the earlier classic track and Rocky’s taste for quality sound is perceived in this song. The background sound consists of a transitional flow of loose tempos and floating vocals which creates a ray of sooth listening. Kid Cudi hums added some spice to the chorus and he delivered beautifully in the second verse. Moby came in with the vocals too. This is an amazing upgrade of the original A$AP Forever song.
In Tony Tone.
Rocky slows down his vocals. He takes the listener on a cruise. “I can’t give a fuck about your clique, you heard ?” Rocky raps place to place across the beat. There’s a conversation involving two women with one criticizing Rocky. The song is blessed with characters. Rocky
faced criticism with boasts in this song.
This is another slow song on a dark grimy beat. However, the drums set in bumpy and
subtle. Rocky raps in a relaxed manner on this track. The track beat feels like a trap fusion,
however, Rocky’s balance on the flow maintains a slow rap transition with a hyped up beat.
Twigs came in with ear soothing vocals that sends chills to the body of the listener, although
there is a subtle spirit that makes the listener want to hop on and vibe to it.
In Praise the Lord.
Rocky wakes us up! Drums are heavy, Bass is booming, you’d definitely rock to this regardless of its gospel lyrical content. Rocky flows perfectly on the beats using a disyllabic metered flow all through, producing a bumpy and bouncy atmosphere. Skepta never disappoints, he comes through assisting Rocky’s flow. It’s safe to say they created the best song on the album.
This takes us back to the slow A$AP, singing over an acoustic guitar. He successfully
creates a momentum that has us wondering how will Kodak flow on this? Rocky’s vocal is on a smooth sail through the mind and is then interrupted by a planned call drop voice. When Kodak’s voice emerges, he seemed to be singing on the beat too. There was an emotional twitch in this part; knowing that Kodak was recording his verse from jail.
Opens up with the blaring sound of rifles and sirens and like a club fight music. Rocky hops on the track with the words “I ain’t scared” The best part is when Rocky said “This ain’t fornite, Nigga get your shit rocked”. Smooky MarGiella comes in right on time, he sounded
like he was dancing and singing at the same time. Playboi Carti assists Rocky in the third verse then Smooky finished it up with a fourth verse.
Gunz N Butter.
This song has a modernized Mafioso feel underneath the beat. A$AP Rocky sounds alive
again; with extended flows which blends with a beat in transition. However extended the flows feel, it isn’t a free flow hence there are interruptions like slowed down vocal of Rocky himself. Juicy J graces this track with dope adlibs. The track however, feels distorted with different sounds clashing but it’ll keep you moving.
Feels like a sample of Marvin Gaye’s What’s going on. Although the beats aren’t totally similar it gives a similar feel. The track features some soulful elements. Rocky places his vocals above limits. This is the type of song that fits an exotic dinner atmosphere. Picture Rocky
in tuxedo’s, glistening grills, gold chain performing this particular song with help from
Snoop Dogg, Frank Ocean and French Montana then everyone is rocking slowly, passing wine and laughing. This song hits that spot. However, its lyrical subject hangs on brotherhood
among black folks.
The beat is funky and bumpy. Rocky dishes out that trap flow to us. This is a song we would do the Bloc Boy dance to. Speaking of Bloc Boy, he seems to be in charge of the adlibs. The beat switch up is remarkable. He talks about selling drugs and evolving into a rapper.
Almost similar to L$D in his previous album, Kids Turned Out Fine sees Rocky rapping through the tempos of merry beats. This track is joyful, the vocals seem elementary, like something kids can rally round to at a merriment park. A$AP Rocky dishes out an important message about kids and their vices. He rapped on the acoustic guitar and does a bit of singing. Safe to say he created a summer school anthem. This is his favorite song on the album and he properly experimented with mind soothing sounds.
Arguably a standout track, as it starts off with a Thug Life sample. From the genius of the
soundtrack, it is obvious A$AP Rocky spent quality time in creating this track. He jumps on the beat, does justice and maintains a jiggy flow – puts us through that groovy rap. His vocal energy is suitably stable but the track itself own a greatest amount of energy. Dev Hynes came in sweetly with a stellar delivery. Rocky pops back in to rap, kept that groovy flow on check. Dev Hynes drops in again and maintains a never disappointing circle. The song ended with “a ball nigga, ball” chant.
Starts off with beautifully sang vocals, Rocky uses his chemistry with acoustic sounds. Changes has a promising sound, Rocky’s vocals seemed unbelievable because of the way he presented his flow and singing. He starts off with an increased vocal spoken word rap then he
gets to rapping on the acoustic sound which quickly switched up and ushers in a new type of
vibration. This part features A$AP rapping about circumstances and how life changes, stories
about his ex and other things. It later reverts to its earlier soundtrack and makes a perfect circle.
Rapping about elitism and reality, Black Tux, White Collar, as the title says is a conglomerate of the elitism of street credibility. The beautiful thing about A$AP Rocky’s track is that apart from lyricism, it gives the listener the paradise of hyper energetic laced up beats to bump to. He delivers an energetic performance on this song.
Save to say that the best was saved for the last. Purity was a calm and meditative track. It would easily pass as everybody’s favourite. Rocky and Frank Ocean sets in beautifully with a couple of spoken word at the start, then Frank’s vocals catch our attention. Thinking we’ve drowned enough in his vocals, he comes through with a dope verse, he rapped through it. It was amazing then Rocky snatched his moment back! He rapped the second verse while Frank floats in the background, beautiful and effervescent way to finish an album!
This album isn’t like a typical Kendrick Lamar conceptual album but the closing part of it gives it an all track balance. In truth, we can’t expect a wacky album from A$AP Rocky. From his first album to the second and this, he succeeds in maintaining a balance in the quality of his three major projects. A$AP Rocky is relevant and still relevant in the rap game; he has maintained a lane for himself and he is the only one on that lane.
The album title, TESTING, shows his thirsts for experiments and for the records,
This album isn’t a failed experiment after all.
Edited By: Bolaji Matanmi [Bmax]