“I would not consider myself to be a quote unquote real New York rapper,” ASAP Rocky said in an interview last month. “I don’t even like New York rappers.”
In hip-hop only New York, cocky and accomplished and obstinate, casts a shadow this long. The burden of history is especially heavy here, in rap’s birthplace, which is why generations of rappers have done their part to protect the fort. Old styles become sacred texts used for indoctrination. Progress is acceptable, within the lines.
Into that morass comes ASAP Rocky, child of Harlem, with a new idea about how to be a New York rapper. “Live Love ASAP,” his forthcoming debut mixtape, is placeless and universal, an album that sounds as if it has ingested the last 20 years of hip-hop’s travels and would be comfortable anywhere. There’s chewy, slowed-down homages to Houston, flow patterns reminiscent of Cleveland’s Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, nods to New Orleans and Atlanta and the Bay Area and everywhere else hip-hop is made. Almost everywhere but New York, it seems. Continue reading