A$AP Rocky continues to shift the culture as we look forward to ‘Testing’
It is undeniable that A$AP Rocky has been testing his audience’s patience with his soon to be released third studio album, Testing.
On January 23rd, Rocky, born Rakim Mayers released “5IVE $TAR$” to much confusion and worry, both critically and fan wise. The track circled the internet rap discussion zeitgeist to much negative discussion. In other words, people were hating.
Many fans trashed the tracks lack of mastering and poor lyricism not exhibited by Rocky before. Some drew comparisons to Rocky’s protege, Playboi Carti, in how the track sounded. Three months later, Rocky would release two tracks to even further criticism, “Bad Company” featuring BlocBoy JB and “Herojuana Blunts.”
The former drawing negative feedback due to its subjectively terrible vocal performance which some could call “LSD” without polish. The latter garnering no major attention.
It is unclear why an artist who cares about quality control as much as Rocky would release work that sounded so unfinished and frankly, amateur.
Some speculated that he was making an attempt at gauging his fans’ feedback. If this was the case, then he definitely took their feedback to heart with the release of “A$AP Forever.”
On Monday, Rocky subtlety confirmed his albums release date in the comments of a recent Instagram post. Exchanges between him and common collaborator/friend, Tyler, The Creator indicate that the album is due for release this Friday, May 25th.
In a recent Complex interview, Rocky confirmed the following track names on the album: “The Kids Turned Out Fine,” “Praise The Lord,” “OG Beepers,” and “Drops.”
What is significant about ASAP Rocky is his lack of hesitation when it comes to thinking outside of the proverbial rap box. Yesterday, Rocky hosted a 90-minute performance art piece at Sotheby’s New York.
There he revealed two major projects from different creative realms: Testing’s album art and a physical manifestation of his rarely discussed collaboration with American sportswear giant, Under Armour.
Rocky revealed the new sneakers inside a 10x10x10 transparent cube, referring to them as “jiggy shit.” With regard to Rocky’s performance art, he spent most of the time answering lab test-esque questions from faceless scientists.
He also performed collaborations musically between him and fellow mob members A$AP Ferg and A$AP Twelvyy. Rocky also performed a song from indie rock musician, Dev Hynes.
Throughout his performance, Rocky addressed topics like pornography, the current political environment, addiction and sexuality in media, something that he is very familiar with.
The performance was flush with multifaceted forms of symbolism which one could argue paid homage to performance art pioneer, Marina Abromovic.
Unlike Ambromovic, Rocky set out to ensure that his audience was on the same mental and emotional plane that he was on with his collaborators. It is clear that he set out to ensure that his message was understood, and seemed to not want to go too overboard with his message.
Years following his stellar precedent setting mixtape Live. Love. ASAP., Rocky has successfully cemented himself both in the realms of fashion and music as an icon, reaching heights almost as high as Kanye West.
The reason a comparison is being drawn between these two is the similarities that they share. Both these tour de forces in rap push boundaries in everything that they do.
Rocky, like Kanye, makes his fans wait for excruciating amounts of time for new music. He also breaks the mold that people believe he keeps setting himself in.
First, it was bringing the southern sound to the Northeast. Then he demonstrated that he too, had singing chops, in addition to sonic diversity and had the ability to change things up whenever he pleases while still proving his skill lyrically, no matter the genre. “A$AP Forever” was greeted to an incredible reception.
In an interview with GQ, Rocky talked about the theme of his third studio album and what Testing really means saying,
“People are scared to test new sounds, so they go with what’s current ’cause it’s the easy thing to do. The top 100 songs sound a certain way. People cater more to that because it’s a bigger demographic behind that, or it’s a guaranteed demographic behind that. I prefer to experiment and have my crowd grow with me and to reach new crowds. I don’t just rap—I actually make music. That’s why it takes time.”
Boasting a Moby feature and a porcelain sample, “A$AP Forever” exhibits Rocky reiterating his contributions to rap, fashion and general New York culture in the 2010s.
His upcoming album Testing could represent a shift in not only his sound but his mindset as an artist taking the next step in his legendary career.