ASAP Rocky defies critics’ labels

Mike Turzilli

Shortly after an artist surfaces into the mainstream, he/she is compared to other artists from the same city. Furthermore, artists from a given city often become judged more by their hometown than their music. This trend is especially prevalent in hip-hop, where rappers boast their city’s culture until they become the city’s mascot. However, Harlem native ASAP Rocky is more focused on resisting the New York rapper label than acquiring it.

“I would not consider myself to be a quote unquote real New York rapper … I don’t even like New York rappers,” ASAP Rocky said in a New York Times interview this month.

According to Rocky, he wants nothing to do with the “New York rapper” label that critics haphazardly slap onto artists from New York.

Rocky’s defiance towards this label is primarily the result of rejection from his peers. In a recent interview with Fader TV, Rocky explains that he and his crew, all of whom place ASAP before their names, were labeled as outcasts. Their eccentric fashion sense and strong interest in drugs forced their peers to neglect them. This separation from New York City’s culture is the driving force behind Rocky’s motivation to not become known as a New York rapper.

Musically, Rocky maintains the same sense of locational defiance. His tracks possess traits from numerous hip-hop hot spots across the country, most notably Houston. Rocky’s most popular track, “Purple Swag,” is essentially a tribute to the chopped and screwed rap style that originated in Houston. Although “Purple Swag” is Rocky’s most well-known track, it is far from his best. Formulating an opinion from simply listening to “Purple Swag” would be a great disservice to both Rocky and the listener.

Digging deeper into Rocky’s work reveals numerous tracks that are comparable to works of the most notable artists. Songs such as “Trilla” and “Grown Up” boast Rocky’s finest lyrical work

Along with having what he calls an “all purpose flow,” Rocky has a great ear for beats. The production on his tracks truly possess the most innovative sound available; specifically the song “Peso.”

“Peso” is more than anything Rocky’s best representation as an artist. The beat is both dreamy and heavy, combining elements of various hip-hop roots.This sound mixture is one that suits the artist quite nicely, and he proves this by laying down two solid verses.

As of last Friday, Rocky signed a $3 million dollar deal with Polo Grounds Music, a subdivision of Sony/RCA. Rocky is the first artist since 50 Cent to receive this substantial monetary amount for a first signing. Clearly the record company sees the massive potential in his work. Be sure to keep an eye on ASAP Rocky and check out his first full mix tape “LiveLoveASAP,” which dropped last Friday.