Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A$AP Ferg "Trap Lord" (2013)

"Trap Lord" is the debut album of New York rapper / producer A$AP Ferg, a member of the A$AP Mob, a Hip Hop collective consisting of 14 members who have been active since 2007,  finding success in recent years. I found my way to this record looking for "Trap" music, a term used in Southern Hip Hop in the early 90s that has seen a wave of revival and innovation in recent years in both Hip Hop and Dance music. "Trap Lord" was a record of two halves, one great, the other awful, so we will start with the good. 

There is a stylistic formula at work on this record that doesn't take long to break down. Ferg's production follows some core principles that doesn't stray to far track to track. The kits are tight, sharp and cut finely. Crisp claps and snares groove with sudden kicks that leave a big space that even the sterile hi-hats don't touch, they rattle and stutter at varying tempos creating dynamic grooves that even the occasional reverb soaked snare doesn't touch. It leaves much room for the instruments to fill and the compositional arrangements have their own style not afraid to bring in minimalism with frequent kick and snare dropping. Filling the space the kit leaves are minimal leads from a variety of electronic sounds that rarely move beyond one or two layers. The melodies are simple, consisting of a few notes that repeat over and over. Its easy to strip down, but built up these songs build a contrasting air of swagger and paranoia that paint an image criminal wealth and looking over your shoulder. Further stylizing the sound, the vocals come with distant echo affirmation shouts and aren't afraid of using pitch shifts and effects in places.

Ferg's rapping is both rigid and laid back, his flow is often tight and repetitive, choosing words to fit a tight rhythm that loops over, occasionally Ferg suddenly shifts gears to double the tempo of his lyrics. Spitting stiff his tone and delivery is contrasting, sounding casual, often slurring or drawing out words, mispronouncing to fit a rhyme he creates a lot of substance and style. But thats where the good ends for me, the lyrical content of this record his ruthlessly misogynistic and graphic. Between boisterous sexism and degrading imaginary their is little substance that grabs me. Not a line sticks in the mind, even if the flows are enjoyable what their rapping about is hardly. On "402" and "Dump Dump" Ferg hits a low as he shows his self centered moral-less attitude, glorifying his promiscuous behavior and rubbing salt in the wound, depicting his victim crying on the record. I enjoyed the instrumentals, but the lyrical content leaves nothing to return to once the beats dry out.

Favorite Songs: Let It Go, Shabba, Lord, Hood Pope, Fergivicous, Cocaine Castles
Rating: 5/10