Just a few years ago it would have been difficult for a still-emerging major label rap artist to get away with what A$AP Rocky has. He's all aesthetic, and his aesthetic is breaking all the rules.
Rocky's first major label release reflects this. It's a flamboyant, confident debut from an artist whose entire career is defined by a post-rap sensibility. Rapping well isn't Rocky's thing - but for those who care about that kind of stuff, there are nice features from Schoolboy Q, Drake and a resurgent Yelawolf, among others.
Instead he's a conduit for bigger ideas: stark imagery and tweaky hooks (Long Live A$AP), seemingly incongruent but well-executed collaborations (with Skrillex, Santigold), and a song dedicated to Tumblr girls that's a compendium of au courant fashion designers (Fashion Killa).
A macabre mood keeps it cohesive and lends a cinematic quality, kind of like the A$AP Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Top track: Suddenly