Release Date: Aug 20, 2013
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap, Underground Rap, East Coast Rap
With the deep, dark, and delicious Trap Lord, A$AP Ferg enters the A$AP Mob's immersive murder music hall of fame, having crafted an album as out there and attractive as A$AP Rocky's official debut Long. Live. A$AP.
Darold Ferguson Jr.-- best known as A$AP Ferg, a member of A$AP Rocky’s A$AP Mob-- brings a tantalizing skillset to the table, a startling versatility and an electricity that not even his more famous friend can touch. He sings (see his star-making debut on Rocky’s “Kissin’ Pink”), he can write (take his bendy, gleeful “Shabba”), and he’s weird-- when he’s feeling purple, he channels his inner Fergenstein, a lewder, more hedonistic persona. He also talks big: “I wanna be as known as Jesus,” he told me earlier this year, later mentioning his affinity for artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Warhol.
There have always been rappers, on the peripheries of greatness, that forever will be best suited to crew cuts, where they can come barrelling down from the wings, notebooks unbound and best bars brandished, sometimes flying with their more talented peers, sometimes flailing, always desperately trying, and in any and all cases enhancing the clique’s generals, by addition or by subtraction (or occasionally by division). Many of these bit players, these lesser celestial bodies orbiting around – and lost in the corona of – rap stars, are bound to these tedious ellipses by their own failings; something about them, their voice, their lyrical content, their beat selection, their presence, holds them back and, unable to shake the albatross in the brutal meritocracy that is rap, instead continue on their seemingly destined journey, cropping up now and again in forms both beautiful and graphic, Venusian reminders that there are more planets than stars. More tragic than the moderately gifted are the rappers who were never allowed to flourish, who found themselves caught up in the machinery of the record industry, rappers who simply forever simmered, low boiling, garnering fans and accolades but never quite ascending to the heights they should have.
The mixtape turned debut album from A$AP Ferg has been a long time coming. While it’s somewhat unusual nowadays to see a rapper release a debut album without first releasing a mixtape, Ferg has been gaining recognition mainly through features, and by mere association with fellow rapper A$AP Rocky, whose debut album leapt to the top of the billboard charts in January of this year. While Ferg’s album is unlikely to have the same success, with its darker, grittier and more acquired sound, it is a debut album to be proud of.
Harlem, NY rapper A$AP Ferg has established himself as the warped right-hand man of A$AP Mob cohort A$AP Rocky. After stellar cameos on Mob-affiliated projects, on debut Trap Lord, Ferg blends two decades of rap styles, from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and M.O.P. to Southern trap rap. Ferg pays tribute to his influences while expanding upon them: Bone Thugs blaze through the operatic "Lord," while "Fuck Out My Face" revives '95 shout-rap via Three 6 Mafia, with verses from Aston Matthews and a reinvigorated Onyx and B-Real.
The latest from the all-conquering A$AP Mob sees Darold Brown step up to the plate. He’s hardly going it alone though, calling in Rocky for two tracks, plus French Montana, Waka Flocka Flame and old-timers B-Real, Onyx and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. Ferg’s stock-in-trade is yappy delivery and garish profanity over minimalist click-beats and echo-laden synths.
This Harlem-bred MC is more an interior designer than a master carpenter, a rapper whose real gift isn't rapping but curating sound. No surprise coming from a member of the A$AP Mob crew, whose fashion choices get as much attention as their music. Slow, silky and menacing, with twists of eccentricity, his debut is a finely constructed mood piece – say it ties the room together.
It’s been a little less than eight months since A$AP Rocky released Long. Live. A$AP, his much-hyped, much-delayed major label debut.
The word "trap" has evolved from slang for a drug-dealing corner to its own genre of Southern hip-hop. In the case of A$AP Ferg's debut album, it refers to neither. A Trap Lord, he says, is someone who hustles, hard, at anything. Ferg - next emcee in line in A$AP Rocky's A$AP Mob - is Harlem born and bred but definitely displays a Jamaican lilt in his rap voice, and not just on humorous club banger Shabba.
Like the rest of the A$AP Mob, ASAP Ferg has a command on lean-soaked ego builders. After a slow-rolling intro courtesy of ASAP Yams, Ferg’s debut LP, Trap Lord, opens with a spray of gunfire. “Kill that motherfucka with the magnum .44/ ’bout a jump snump, nigga, magnum on the road,” Ferg aggressively cuts through the backing crawl of “Let It Go”.
New York hasn't had a Wu-Tang quality rap dynasty in quite awhile. Hell, even a Dipset quality one would be nice. In recent years, the city that birthed hip-hop and spawned several of its reigning champions has all but admitted rap game defeat, beset on all sides by Southern swagger, Chi-town cool, Cali sheen, and, believe-it-or-not, Toronto chic. How exactly the Big Apple fell out of favor is subject to debate, though arguably the G-Unit freefall of the mid-2000s left a radioactive void that’d give even Snake Plissken pause.
A$AP Ferg, part of New York’s A$AP Mob, has made a debut more accomplished and compelling than his highly hyped and more popular peer, A$AP Rocky. Ferg reaches beyond the boroughs and borrows from various regional musical and linguistic influences to create a set of songs laced with introspection, menace, and smartly conceived verses. He inventively alternates his flow from languidly ominous to highly rhythmic to sing-song (sometimes even within one song).
This week sees the release of two very different rap albums, Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris and A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord. They may appear to have little in common, but both LPs demonstrate a gradual coming to the fore: of crews whose melding together of classic ’90s rap tropes with Tumblr-gen, brand-heavy mentalities (Odd Future’s dense lyrical introspection mixed with shock-jock teenagedom, A$AP’s Houston-worship by way of NY rap iconography) broke their ringleaders as artists first and savvy enablers second, and then Earl and Ferg from misfit to focal point. At this junction though they part ways.
There was a time when it seemed like A$AP Ferg’s debut mixtape Trap Lord would never see the light of day. Since the A$AP Mob member’s introduction to the world on standout cuts “Persian Wine” and “Work” from the collective’s 2012 Lord$ Never Worry mixtape, fans who desired a grittier, more versatile answer to A$AP Rocky’s efficient but clean-cut raps called for Ferg to release a project. As the pleas grew louder, Ferg started to tease his project and miss new release dates with every passing month.