Alright, let me level with you: I know very little about hip-hop and rap. Highly discouraged from exploring the genre as a kid, I grew to “hate” it out of unfamiliarity – you know, we animals fear what we don’t understand. It wasn’t until recently I started exploring the outskirts of this musical scene with artists like Biggie Smalls, 2Pac, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Childish Gambino. Why am I telling you all this? Well, frankly, because I decided to treat this review as an experiment by taking a risk and exploring a style of music with which I’m not entirely familiar. Much to my surprise, I didn’t hate the latest release by A$AP Ferg Always Strive and Prosper. Quite the contrary – I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. Ferg and his producers clearly know how to create a solid hook and utilize some pretty great samples to make sure the album keeps your attention. Despite that, don’t expect to pop this on as a workout jam or for a dance party. It’s very much a series of jams to accompany you while cruising down a street…or you know, light one up, kick back on a comfy couch, and just chill.
Lyrically, very little connected with me – a problem very common in this genre for a lower-middle class white male from Orange County, California. Though, one exceptional stand-out is the eleventh track “Beautiful People” that earnestly calls for people to treat each other better and work toward a better future. It’s just an honest anthem promoting strength to stand together as “We are all beautiful people.”
Overall, I was rather surprised at the range of emotion Always Strive and Prosper displays. While definitely more subtle than in other musical styles, there is a decent mix of confidence and vulnerability here. It’s definitely not for everyone – if you already don’t like rap, don’t expect A$AP Ferg to convert you (honestly, check out Childish Gambino or Eminem if you’re looking for a gateway-drug artist). So if you’re not interested in the whole album, my recommended stand-out tracks include “Strive,” “Psycho,” “New Level,” and “Beautiful People.” Oh, and it goes without saying you shouldn’t listen to this if you’re easily offended or looking for something family friendly. It’s definitely an R-rating – and all the better for it.
What do you think of A$AP Ferg’s new album? Let us know in the comments below!
Listen to the full album here:
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