FKA twigs collabs? Kanye input? Grime production? Never mind the rumours, here's the facts
Last night, A$AP Rocky sat down at London’s St Pancras Renaissance hotel to give a talk for Red Bull Music Academy about his favourite topic – himself. That’s by his own admission, too: the Harlem rapper walked into the room applauding himself, pointed at the giant poster of his own face asking who that “handsome” guy was, and recalled his first ever memory of staring into a mirror at his own face at the age of two. “That’s how I knew I was going to be conceited.”
Given Rocky has been pretty quiet for the last couple of years since the release of his debut studio album Long.Live.A$AP in January 2013, the audience were hooked on his every word. Particularly when those words turned towards the subject of his upcoming new album, At.Long.Last.A$AP, which, if we’re being honest, it seemed like Rocky was much more stoked about than he ever was about his debut. Throwing side-eye at his 2013 single “Fuckin’ Problems” for its lyrics about “bad bitches,” the rapper has scarcely looked happier than he did when blasting his new song “M’s” through the giant speakers that flanked him. Other than the fact that it sounds really, really good, here are six things we learnt last night about the upcoming record.
FKA TWIGS AND LYKKE LI ARE NOT ON IT
Rocky says this story that popped up on various news outlets in recent weeks is the result of a misquote; the songs he made with Twigs date back to 2011, and will not be included on the At.Long.Last. tracklist. “I have a song with [Twigs] and Lykke Li that’s amazing, but unfortunately...the person that was interviewing me asked who I’d been working with in the two years since I’d been on the scene, and I said [Twigs]. [Journalists] do anything to get hype.”
BUT YASIIN BEY (AKA MOS DEF) SAYS HE AND KANYE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON IT
Yasiin Bey got up on stage to confirm that “a lot of fresh people” have been working on Rocky’s new record, including himself, Kanye, Dangermouse and Lil B aka Based God (who the entire room cheered for). Bey also described the vibe of the record as “like the first Beastie Boys album going into Paul’s Boutique.”
IT ALSO HAS LOADS OF INPUT FROM A BRITISH GUY CALLED JOE FOX
There’s a bizarre story around how this young British guy Joe Fox got involved in the album, that involves Rocky nipping out for Starbucks in London’s Soho, bumping into this unknown producer, and somehow bringing him in to help sculpt seven of the album’s tracks. Fox, who was brought up on stage to talk about his experience working with Rocky, says the upcoming record is “psychedelic,” “forward-thinking” and “a masterpiece.”
Which brings us to...
IT WAS MADE IN LONDON, AND CARRIES ITS INFLUENCE
The majority of the album was written and recorded in London, a lot of it apparently on the very couch Rocky was sitting on during the lecture. He talked about the ideas he’d had of London as a kid - he thought the potato chips were pink and the cops wore rollerskates! - but described how, as an adult, he found inspiration in London’s architecture and musical history.
Despite referring to it as a “subgenre of hip-hop,” Rocky also spoke highly of grime, and promised its influence would surface on the new album. He claimed A$AP were the first US crew to recognise the genre’s importance and to say to Skepta, “we need to merge this shit.”
IT’S GOING TO EMPOWER WOMEN...SORT OF
Rocky says there’s a necessary female energy to this album, as he had the studio filled with women throughout its recording. When asked about women’s rights, he was cheerful and optimistic, which was great, but also qualified this by saying: “Women are getting smart, man...women are catching on to all the bullshit things that we put them through.” Okay!
He was disparaging of his older songs like “Fuckin’ Problems,” and promised that there would be a newfound respect manifested in his new music. “I’m 26, and one of my biggest obsessions...is women, so I just wanted to express that.”
“Women are inspirational,” he added. “I live for women. If it was just men on this earth, I wouldn’t give a fuck about - I barely give a fuck about shit now...Too much testosterone, I can’t deal with that.”
IT WASN'T MADE FOR THE MAINSTREAM
Rocky says his days of making radio-friendly hits are behind him. “With [Long.Live.A$AP] I wanted to show that I could be a mainstream artist; I had mainstream success, but that’s really not my style. It’s really not. I said to myself, on this album, I don’t want to make one song that will make me cringe inside when I perform it.”
IT’S GOING TO SOUND LIKE THIS
At the end of the lecture, Rocky played this track “M’s,” rounding it off with a short word dedicating it to his recently deceased friend and partner, A$AP boss Yams. “That’s one of the more fun songs on the album,” he explained, “because I didn’t want Yams to pass and I didn’t want y’all motherfuckers to be like ‘this thing’s so emotional,’ I wanted to give y’all fun because, you know...we’re celebrating everything he did for us.”
As he stated later on Twitter, “M’s” is not a single, just a taste of what’s to come. Stream it below.