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A$AP Rocky: Long.Live.A$AP (RCA) 

In the last few weeks I've been driving around blasting "Fashion Killa" off A$AP Rocky's debut, Long.Live.A$AP, and singing the words "She's a fashion killa/ And I'm a trendy ni**a" right along with A$AP. In fact, I might have done that in the car on my way to see Django Unchained. And I don't feel guilty about it.

The album's sonic template has a lot in common with the recent crop of deconstructed R&B we've been enjoying—Miguel, the Weeknd, Frank Ocean. It also recalls the noisy electro-murk of experimental indie acts like Crystal Castles and Gang Gang Dance, yet it still boasts the ferociously lyrical passages of the best rap records, such as the all-star free-for-all on "1 Train" that features Rocky trading verses with Danny Brown, Kendrick Lamar and others. But as trendy as Rocky acknowledges he is, he's also a riveting presence on Long.Live.A$AP, telling us to "call [him] Basquiat Picasso" on "Phoenix" and then boasting "My bitch white, but my cock black" on "PMW (All I Really Need)" (which, by the way, stands for Pussy, Money, Weed). Rocky's crude and tough, witty and soulful, in turn.

I'm still not sure about the identity politics involved in turning "Fashion Killa" into a sing-along, but I'll tell you this—as I walked across the UA campus the other day, an SUV containing two fratty white guys drove by, windows down, with "Fuckin' Problems" blasting at full volume, backward-turned baseball caps nodding along with the beat. And it sounded great.

More by Sean Bottai

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