For the last four years, A$AP Mob fans have been running the well dry while awaiting A$AP Rocky‘s next studio album.
Of all the projects and musical offerings that these fans are replaying in Rocky’s absence, his most recent full length project is one that likely took the longest to win over their hearts.
On May 25, 2018, the Harlem-bred rapper dropped this third studio album TESTING, a 52-minute bumpy road of exploration and boldness from one of the genre’s most braggadocious artists.
With a laundry list of guest appearances, whether it be for full verses or brief refrains, that includes OG 1990s and 2000s icons like Diddy, T.I., Snoop Dogg and Juicy J, stunning, titanic R&B vocalists like FKA Twigs and longtime friend Frank Ocean as well as bonafide stars like Kid Cudi, Kodak Black from behind bars and Skepta, TESTING served as a fruitful buffet of sounds that had been adjacent to Rocky throughout his career up until this point.
Flacko, I wonder how it feel to live or be like you
Album number three and keep it G like Q“Brotha Man” — A$AP Rocky
What made TESTING different from his prior two studio albums and singular breakout mixtape, however, was its experimental aspect. This same approach that first polarized fans’ opinions on the project also turned out to be the factor that made the album’s aging process graceful and attractive. It seems more and more listeners have become fonder of TESTING over the years, likely due to its unorthodox production that grew on fans with each listen.
The rollercoaster-simulating sequencing of the album resembles an artist trying to gain their footing in a new style or method of making music. The transitions from the string-induced, rhythmic claps and Kid Cudi hums on “A$AP Forever REMIX” to the choppy beat and bar-spitting on its following song “Tony Tone,” as well as the guitar-driven, ethereal “CALLDROPS” leading into the police siren-laden, thumping 808s on “Buck Shots” illustrates the unpredictability Rocky aimed for with this project.
Uh, my mic sounds nice, check one (Woo!)
My mic sounds nice, check two (Uh-huh, yeah-yeah)
Testing, one-two, one-two, let’s go“Tony Tone” — A$AP Rocky
While Rocky could have been complacent making the psychadelic trap and pop rap that gained him his following in the first place, evident on LONG.LIVE.A$AP and AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP, he went out on a limb. By including deeply introspective lyricism and erratic production, while also expanding on the techniques he was already familiar with, TESTING resulted in an evergreen project that will continue to change fans’ minds for years to come.
As we wait for Rocky’s ‘All Smiles,’ take some time to revisit his most experimental, career-altering album below!