By Bert Connelly
ART5 & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
A$AP Rocky – LiveLoveA$AP
Right now, in the twitter-verse, the topic of “2011musictaughtme” is trending. For those whose eyes haven’t been trained to ﬁnd the spaces after hashtags, that means, “2011 music taught me.” What does this hashtag mean to me? Take some time to answer this question for yourself. For me, the answer was immediate: 2011 music has taught me that the Internet is everything.
Before this mixtape, which I swear I will talk about in terms of content in a minute, A$AP Rocky had two songs that were entirely his own – “Peso” and “Purple Swag” – widely available in the public domain and a 3 million dollar record deal under his belt. Think about that from two levels. First, let’s consider a poorly thought out analogy: Imagine you are a character on a reality TV show (aren’t we all) like “Top Chef.” Now imagine you made two entrees and maybe sprinkled cheese on a couple other dishes. Now imagine that after doing that Emeril Lagasse comes on stage with a contract ensuring that you (and your crew) can open your own restaurant/s and smoke blunts all day. That’s basically what happened to A$AP Rocky and his crew.
Next, let’s consider how that happened. Once, on “30 Rock,” Tracy Jordan yelled, “I want to hold up a mirror to society and then win world record for biggest mirror.” He wasn’t talking about A$AP Rocky, but he may as well have been because that is exactly who the mirror should be pointed at. I have used this forum before to say things like, “(so-and-so) could not exist without the internet,” but A$AP Rocky is the ﬁrst rapper, to my knowledge, who was conceived, spawned and created by the Internet.
Geographically, Rocky comes from an IP address in Harlem. Musically, he comes from a Mediaﬁre account in Houston. One of the coolest things about the Internet is that you can talk to someone across the world, so distance can be easier to manage. Rocky’s sound is a testament to that ethos. His mixtape, “LiveLoveA$AP,” is the only one in my iTunes labeled under the genre, “Trillwave.” That does not mean that A$AP Rocky invented a style of music, I’m not sure that’s still possible. It does mean that he has inﬂuences from very speciﬁc regions and he has honed those styles to his own rapping abilities. It’s simple; cultivate a sound, look as cool as you f*cking can in a few music videos, surround yourself with a crew, establish a presence on social media and sign a check. It’s the sparknotes version of the Odd Future business model.
And so, on the strength of two well-produced and entertaining music videos, a lot of people sharing those videos on various forms of social media and an insane amount of blog buzz, A$AP Rocky was born. If A$AP Rocky becomes a household name, the internet will have spoken and this method of signing an artists based on image and social media buzz will be the way in which the music industry functions. If A$AP Rocky drowns in the mainstream, which seems more than likely given the recent demand for loud club songs that Diplo produced and not chilled-out-syrup-inﬂuenced drug-crazed-rap, he will still help symbolize the changing of the guard in the music industry.
The tape? Oh, it’s the best mixtape I’ve heard in months. It rides the amazing production and boasts a couple moments of brilliance from Rocky who, truth be told, isn’t an amazing rapper. It’s ambient and awesome. It feels like an album, not a mere mixtape. And thank god, because if it was anything less, the hype bubble might burst and A$AP might have to change his acronym to MIA, or something like that.