As July turned to August this week, rap fans were greeted with the information that it is now AWGEST, the beginning of a month-long takeover from the one and only A$AP Mob. This is culminated in the soon-to-be-released Cozy Tapes: Vol. 2, but it also means a bounty of new singles and new full-lengths from the likes of A$AP Twelvyy and A$AP Ferg.
It would be no exaggeration to say that, collectively, the A$AP Mob are among the most influential hip-hop acts of the decade, if not the new millennium. Their sounds has become ubiquitous, so much so that the inclusion of an ‘A$AP’ in front of anything tells the listener everything they need to know before pressing play. And yet for such an immense legacy, the number of tracks billed to the full Mob (not individual members) is smaller than one might think.
To kick off their month of domination, we’ve rounded up the Top 10 A$AP Mob Posse Cuts. See our picks below.
Does the way Rocky and Ferg say “wro-o-o-o-o-ong” threaten to undo the track entirely in a collapse of self-parody? You bet, but fortunately it does not wholly implode under such colorful vocal flourishes. This is thanks largely to the song’s production, one that layers multiple vocal sample into an echo chamber of haunting, ethereal beats. We suppose such a spooky sonicscape is only fitting for a song that finds the Mob’s heavyweights regretting their romantic carelessness.
9. “Full Metal Jacket”
The Mob’s debut outing as a collective, 2012’s Lords Never Worry, was generally agreed to be a group of misses with the occasional hit. “Full Metal Jacket” is one of the latter group, corralling almost everyone (that is, Rocky & Nast & Ferg & Ant & Twelvyy) into a song built from a loop of brass instruments ceaselessly spiralling upward into the heavens. It may have been placed second in the mixtape’s tracklist, but this is the song that announced to the world that they had arrived.
Twelvyy’s debut (the aptly-titled 12) is now just hours away from being released, but the Mob’s subtle secret weapon has already delivered his definitive statement of purpose. “Xscape,” released as a standalone single in 2014, may be a posse-cut in track listing and behind the production booth, but it is first and foremost a showcase for the rapper’s effervescent rhymes. He has us ‘feeling like Puff back in ’98’ too.
Nast is in the driver’s seat for ingenious tribute to Nas and his iconic album Illmatic on this excellent track, the Mob’s second official single. The chorus is almost criminally catchy, with “funky funky style” and “funky swag” knocking around your head like a children’s playground chant. Bonus points for a star verse from Method Man, one that contains a pitch-perfect Breaking Bad reference.
6. “Bath Salt”
“Bath Salt” is one of the only other tracks worth salvaging from the Mob’s debut mixtape Lords Never Worry, and not just because Ant blesses the world with the term “Willy Wonka candy semen.” As is usual with their best work, the beat is pitch-black, like, moonless night from a horror movie pitch-black, yet it is far from static. Setting each sample up and interplaying them amongst each other, the end result mirrors what we can only assume the high from the song’s namesake would produce.
5. “Telephone Calls”
Has there been a drop more utterly head-crushing than the one that plummets down a mere 15 seconds into this song in the Mob’s catalogue? Tough to say, as that’s a quality of the collective that seems to be endlessly pliable. But even by their standards, “Telephone Calls” goes in, and it goes hard. Not even a guest-spot from Tyler, The Creator can steal the spotlight away from this immaculate production work; it’s so good that they have to end the song with a verse’s worth of instrumentation, accentuated with the command that we “walk, walk, walk, walk.” Don’t have to tell us twice.
4. “Hella Hoes”
Just when you thought no song could unseat M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” for best use of gunshots in the chorus, along comes “Hella Hoes,” a track that marries ammunition fire with a spooky keyboard line that wouldn’t be out of place in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Nast steers the listener through several verses with his fantastic pronunciation of the titular ‘hoes,’ but the dark-horse VIP candidate in this group number is Ferg, whose liquid flow is just on point here; “moonwalk in that pussy like Billie Jean” is just one of his many lyrical triumphs in a verse that is all too brief.
It hasn’t been with us that long, but “RAF” already carries all the hallmarks of an iconic track. Rocky’s meta, meditative introspection on his love for a certain Belgian designer’s fine threads gets assists from heavy-hitters like Quavo and Frank Ocean, but the production does away with such distractions, immediately hearkening back to the core principles of the Mob’s sound. The meandering synth-line is a direct through-line to the beats that first heralded the collective’s dominance nearly a decade ago, yet the fact that they can still mine new tricks from old practices is all the proof we need that Cozy Tapes: Vol. 2 is going to be a real treat.
2. “Crazy Brazy”
There is a lot to unpack in “Crazy Brazy,” a track that is a goldmine of self-referential, self-reflective and (just maybe) actually profound bars despite a svelte three-minute runtime. Rocky makes startlingly clear admissions of emotion like being “anti-everything since Yams died” just seconds after moments of goofy wordplay like being rockier than a cavemen and having “more Margiela than a maison.” This rapidly-paced, dual nature is reflected in the beats, splicing together disparate samples that feel only half-explored or half-inserted, a stark contrast to the maximal sound that has come to define them. Why this song is such an stylistic outlier is anyone’s guess, but it is undoubtedly one of their best.
1. “Yamborghini High”
Rocky has delivered a lot of fantastic hooks in his near-decade of delivering fantastic hooks, but his affirmation of just how luxuriously the Mob lives amongst their bitches (bitches bitches bitches) may lowkey be one of his best. The fact that its delivered over a beat that finds a bass-line jacked up on speed waging war with a choir of angels wailing from underwater is just an added plus. Melodic sensibilities aside, the capstone of Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1 is ultimately an intensely personal yarn from the posse, highlighted by Ferg’s gratitude for their benefactor and founder compressed into their most endearingly concise tribute yet: “Yam’s vision got us rich.”
For more list-y goodness, take a look at ten facts you may not know about Kanye West’s “Stronger” right here.
- Cover Image: Billboard