EAR TO THE GROUND: A$AP, Toro y Moi, Django soundtrackIf Kendrick Lamar is the new King of the West Coast, then A$AP Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, is holding it down for the East Coast. The 24-year-old Harlem-born rapper is preparing to unleash his debut album “LONG.LIVE.A$AP."
By: Tom Carbone, Grand Forks Herald
A$AP Rocky — “LONG.LIVE.A$AP.” (Jan. 15)
If Kendrick Lamar is the new King of the West Coast, then A$AP Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, is holding it down for the East Coast. The 24-year-old Harlem-born rapper is preparing to unleash his debut album “LONG.LIVE.A$AP.,” a little more than a year after garnering widespread critical acclaim with his similarly titled debut mixtape “LIVE.LOVE.A$AP” in 2011.
Rocky first hit went viral on the hip-hop radar after releasing a pair of videos in summer 2011, “Purple Swag” and “Peso,” which showcased his penchant for cloudy production and a Harlem-meets-Houston drawl. Fast forward 14 months, and Rocky is still making the type of music that got him the recognition he deserved in the first place, with one major difference — he’s rich now. A reported $3 million record deal was given to him in advance to record his debut album and the lyrical content reflects that. Rocky raps about his lavish lifestyle, what expensive booze he’s drinking and what designer’s pieces are inside his closet.
On “Suddenly,” toward the end of the album, Rocky reflects on his quick rise to fame in a way that sums up his career, thus far. “Used to have to borrow cash from my friends, friends, just to put a snack up in the fridge/Now all the kids look up to me/my idols say what’s up to me, from ugly to comfortably — suddenly.”
Toro y Moi — “Anything In Return” (Jan. 22)
Toro y Moi emerged on the music scene in summer 2010, a time most associated with the chillwave movement — a genre that consists of melodic pop drenched in synthesized effects and vocal looping. The genre featured artists such Washed Out, Neon Indian and Small Black, but Toro y Moi seemed to pioneer the movement and has always had a stronghold on it.
Toro y Moi — real name Chaz Bundick — certainly has progressed musically from his stripped-down, bedroom pop days that defined his earlier output. With more advanced equipment and practice, “Anything In Return” is cleaner than his previous two albums, and Bundick’s voice shines more than it ever has.
The album’s first single, “So Many Details,” describes a relationship in a simple way, a method that has proven effective for him. “You send my life, into somewhere/ I can’t describe, so many details.”
Django Unchained — “Original Soundtrack” (Dec. 18)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly heard about Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, the spaghetti western “Django Unchained.” Even if you’re not into Tarantino’s brutal and violent depiction of slavery in the 1800s, the soundtrack offers a strong and wide variety of musical genres.
Featuring an array of original and already existing music, the soundtrack includes dialogue excerpts from the film to link one song to the next. Rick Ross and John Legend, who both wrote original songs for the film, are up for Academy Awards for their contributions, and rightfully so. Their songs, “100 Black Coffins,” and “Who Did That To You?” fit within their scenes very well. Having contemporary songs woven in with older classics makes this movie all the more enjoyable.
Carbone is a copy editor at the Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (701) 780-1249. His column runs the second Friday of every month. Read his blog at http://eartotheground.areavoices.com.