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A$AP Ferg’s ‘Always Strive and Prosper’

April 28, 2016

JOHN SADLER

Features editor| jts040@latech.edu

RCA Records

RCA Records

 

 

The Trap Lord is back.

 

 

A$AP Ferg has always been the weirdo of A$AP Mob, running parallel, but perpendicular to A$AP Mob’s other greats like the gone-too-soon A$AP Yams and the high-fashion A$AP Rocky.

 

 

Ferg has eschewed the standard formula of rap collectives. While Odd Future’s simultaneous rise gave birth to the stardom of Tyler, The Creator, other members Frank Ocean and Earl Sweatshirt had to distance themselves from the group to achieve individual success.

 

 

Ferg has somehow avoided this, climbing to fame alongside A$AP Mob “leader” A$AP Rocky, and arguably creating a more individualistic personality for his career.

 

 

Ferg’s first album, the appropriately titled “Trap Lord,” was an appropriately titled debut. Ferg’s ridiculous flexing and trap-based musicality separated himself from the rest of A$AP Mob.

 

 

“Always Strive and Prosper” is simultaneously an extension and reversal of his previous album’s themes. In the album’s opener “Rebirth,” he raps “Now that you’re no longer a lord that’s trapped/ You have graduated to the Hood Pope.”

 

 

Ferg’s previous boats have come true, and now he’s returned to act as a sort of savior, a “hood pope” to preach the truth of opportunity to the downtrodden masses.

 

 

“Always Strive and Prosper” is an album heavily influenced by late 90s to early 2000s hip-hop. The third track on the album, “Strive,” is a heavy 90s house-revival with Missy Elliot herself as one of the standout features on the album.

 

 

The track is solid, and contains a message from both Ferg and Missy about the availability of opportunities and the lack of drive inherent in today’s generation.

 

 

The majority of the features on the album work well. Schoolboy Q’s verse on “Let it Bang” plays to his strengths, namely the repetitive gangsta rap for which he’s well-known. Future also works well on “New Level,” one of the album’s most obvious radio hits,

 

 

The posse cut “Yammy’s Gang” comes across well. While Rocky’s cut overshadows contributions from the rest of the gang, the song gives the lesser-known members of A$AP Mob their place to shine.

 

 

The tracks “Swipe Life” and “Uzi Gang” are also songs likely to receive serious radio play. When Ferg wants to make bangers, he can make bangers.

 

 

Other features on the album work less well. Chris Brown’s feature on “I Love Yo” is uninspired, and just goes to show the way Breezy pulls down all of the songs he sings on down to mid-2000s  R’n’B (for another example: see Kanye West’s “Waves”). Ty Dolla $ign is also featured on the song, but comes across lackluster.

 

 

The album’s highs are stellar, but its lows are remarkably forgettable. When Ferg is working with his 90s-inspired beats, he seems to shine, but a number of tracks on the album, such as “Psycho” and “Grandma,” seem uninspired.

 

 

Nevertheless, the album is worth a listen, if only for its highs. Ferg has done an excellent job with changing up the thematic elements of his songs from “Trap Lord.”

 

 

It is evident Ferg has adopted his new role as A$AP Mob’s positive rapper-philosopher, the team’s emotional guru.

 

 

The Hood Pope is back.

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