These days, a new album announcement starts with a series of cryptic Instagram posts. All having a similar theme, ASAP Rocky’s third studio album “Testing” was shown to be underway through his social media platform. Since 2011, Rocky lead the ASAP mob alongside ASAP Yams (R.I.P), and ASAP Ferg in the Hip Hop scene. The ASAP Mob have established their place in Hip Hop culture through fashion and music over the years. It’s no surprise ASAP Rocky takes to more experimentation in his music to match up with his style of fashion.
Witnessing the transformation of Rocky from Harlem street fashion icon to a global high fashion inspiration. His music has dramatically evolved at the same rate as his fashion. Definitely not what he was when he debuted with “Long.Live.A$AP” in 2013. Damn well light years away from comparison to what “Live.Love.A$AP” was. As far as music goes, it usually progresses with the artist and its never safe to expect the same project. However, expectations weren’t met on this latest release. Perhaps a repleted level of experimentation resulted in such an average piece.
Testing starts out hot with a building intro and leaves listeners a little confused toward the end of the project. Lacking in Hip Hop, we receive mostly sounds of sadness underneath long basslines and synths with samples and nothing to bounce to. A low energy tune that can be used as background music in a coffee shop.
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“Tony Tone” is a glimpse of that ASAP Rocky we all loved, a raw cocky honest lyricist. Rocky tests the mic with a few “mic checks”, sets the tone. Puff Daddy is even involved in offering some adlibs for this record. The production starts to speed up and Rocky gets to work and lists everything he doesn’t give a f*** about. An honest track knocking with authenticity, kicks, snares and faint horn lopped in the background. This record reminds us that our expectations don’t matter, and the artist will do as they please. An aggressive standout tune engulfed by mediocre tracks resulting from striving hard to be different.
“ASAP Forever” is the lead single to Testing. A pleasant artsy representation of Rocky. Featuring a narrative from T.I, the melodies of Kid Cudi, over a sampled track by Moby in “Porcelain”. Honestly sounds like the original track with added Hip Hop tones to it. Not much of a creative track as a single. As an artsy representation of Rocky, this song is like when Banksy went to an antique shop, painted over some artwork and returned it. Not as memorable as his original tracks, however stans will care. Resulting in this single, Moby did manage to hit the Billboard charts again since 2000.
Overall, Testing seems to have been too much of a creative reach by ASAP Rocky. It results into a lack luster project torn between rapping and experimenting. Wanting to be placed outside of the usual box is acknowledged through this work, however it’s a bit out of touch. Let’s be honest, Kanye West is a founding father of using art and fashion to influence Hip Hop music. The trends he sets, he can get away with and that path isn’t fit for all artists. ASAP Rocky is gifted in his own way in that regard. Easing into the creative realm without losing touch from the foundation of a fan base is often a gamble an artist needs to take to progress.
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The ‘Testing’ track listing is as follows…
01. Distorted Records
02. ASAP Forever (feat. Kid Cudi, T.I., Moby)
03. Tony Tone
04. Fukk Sleep (feat. FKA Twigs)
05. Praise the Lord (Da Shine) (feat. Skepta)
06. Calldrop (feat. Kodak Black)
07. Buckshots (feat. Playboi Carti and Smooky Margielaa)
08. Gunz N Butta (feat. Juicy J)
09. Brotha Man (feat. French Montana and Frank Ocean)
10. OG Beeper
11. Kid$ Turned Out Fine
12. Hund43rd (feat. Dev Hynes)
14. Black Tux
15. Purity (feat. Frank Ocean and Ms. Lauryn Hill)