NYC based rapper Ferg of the A$AP Mob opens up with a record that gives us a glimpse into the life of the man behind the music. His debut "Trap Lord" was a marvel of trendy beats and trap influenced production that has grown on me with time but lacked any lyrical substance to chew on. Three years later Ferg puts story and emotion to the mic with a collection of beats that don't feel rigid and type cast as the previous record. Its loaded with trendy bangers stepping up the game and between them an unusual sense of variety that lets 90s Dancehall, jazzy beats and Pop numbers into the flow.
The record starts strong with Skrillex producing a hard hitting banger, "Hungry Ham", full of tension building for the beat drop, sure to get stuck in your head. It paints a picture of a tough neighborhood and crazy characters, including Ferg's uncle a violent man who fights for money. A feature from Schoolboy Q has these heart felt stories crossing over into the banger territory, which gives it much more substance. A few solid tracks in the vibe turns back to the roots with the A$AP Mob flaunting their braggadocios raps loaded with nonsense, it continues through a few more menacing beats and switches up the mood bluntly with "Beautiful People", sampling something very reminiscent of the string sections in Marvin Gaye's "Whats Going On". "Let You Go" flows with the positive vibes on an introspective number that has Ferg reasoning his promiscuous behavior, playing the sympathy card, his narrative seems rather self indulged and unapologetic, a sterling beat but I'm not quite sold on Ferg's musings. After a strong set of beats "I Love You" throws the pop single into the mix just to throw you off the scent.
I'm left feeling "Always Strive And Prosper" is halfway there, a record between two ideas that pushes and pulls in different directions. The production is clearly varied but also solid, each track feels fully realized, developed and its the lyrical content lets the album down where it drifts from the open, introspective, story led narrative Ferg sets us up for in the beginning. Individually each song is pretty rad but flowing from one to the other a lot of problems arise in its vision but that's just about how i want to hear this record.
Favorite Tracks: Hungry Ham, Pyscho, Let It Bang, Beautiful People, Let You Go