A$AP Mob delivers full-length album ‘Cozy Tapes’
Alvaro del Campo | Monday, November 14, 2016
“Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1 Friends” is the debut full-length album of A$AP Mob, the Harlem-based hip hop collective founded by the late A$AP Yams and brought into the mainstream consciousness by the success of A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. With Yams gone, A$AP Rocky takes the helm of the group. “Cozy Tapes” represents a culmination of A$AP Mob’s work to create an aesthetic that draws heavily from fashion and drug culture. The twelve tracks on the album give a consistent, if not versatile hip hop experience.
The opening track is “Yamborghini High,” a cloud rap anthem with booming 808’s and crisp snares that complement an ethereal vocal sample. Appropriately, A$AP Rocky opens the project with a verse highlighting his smooth, signature flow. His verse is the strongest here, with Juicy J and A$AP Mob’s verses proving respectable yet largely conventional. It’s a boast track at its core, with some comical self-awareness offsetting the otherwise vapid subject matter.
“Crazy Brazy” follows, another cloud rap track featuring A$AP Twelvy and Key. Rocky also shines in this song, with a syncopated verse that playfully rides the beat in a way that requires a second listen to fully appreciate. Twelvy and Key’s verses are functional, continuing the trend of Rocky overshadowing his comrades in style and execution.
Wiz Khalifa and BJ the Chicago Kid bring notable features to“Way Hii.” Wiz’s verse is a signature boast, with a loose flow and singing vocals. “Young N—- Living” has one of the best instrumentals on the album, with ethereal vocals over a trap beat and unexpected video game samples. The verses are great, but the lack of familiarity with individual members of A$AP Mob makes it hard to distinguish who is rapping.
“Cozy Tapes” breaks away from trap conventions for the first time on “Nasty’s World,” a boom-bap posse cut with an energetic hook and beat that is a welcome aside from the slow and foggy beats present on the rest of the album. After “Nasty’s World,” the rest of “Cozy Tapes” follows the formula set in the first few tracks and closes with “Telephone Calls,” whose fantastic feature from Tyler, The Creator shoots it to the top of the track list as one of the album’s best songs.
“Cozy Tapes” suffers from a few consequential problems. The lack of diversity in the instrumentals makes it a homogenous listening experience, with barely any deviation from the tried and true trap rap conventions that propelled Rocky to international fame. This is functional in serving the hazy aesthetic of A$AP Mob, but detrimental to the musical integrity of the album itself.
While Rocky and Ferg are unique voices today in the rap world, the rest of A$AP Mob has been largely inactive in output and, as a result, there aren’t many distinct voices among them. The lack of connection to these artists makes “Cozy Tapes” less enjoyable than a G.O.O.D. Music or Black Hippy album. Granted, this is only Volume 1, so A$AP Mob can change that before the next one.
Overall, “Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1 Friends” is a solid project with some glaring flaws, but these flaws can be addressed through more versatile instrumentation and a better attempt at differentiation by those in not named Rocky or Ferg. The Cozy aesthetic is well established by this album through some bona fide bangers and swagger-filled posse cuts, and with some work, A$AP Mob is on its way to being a major voice in the hip hop community.
Artist: A$AP Mob
Album: “Cozy Tapes: Volume 1 Friends”
Tracks: Yamborghini High, Crazy Brazy, Young N***a Living
If you Like: A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, Tyler, the Creator