From the calibrating bass that clicks and warps along to form the first moments of A$AP Rocky’s new album, there is a confusion set about. For fans that were playing the Jimmy Fallon snippets, to those who awed in the pure detail and originality in the video for “A$AP Forever”, Rocky held some real surprises with his newest record, TESTING.
In an eager display of some of the best hip-hop verse writing and production selection to date from any A$AP member, Rocky shakes the ground with TESTINGand illustrates an experimental mix to shaping the perfect record. With the strong strides of the opening “Distorted Records”, Rocky ruins speaker systems and creates swirls of action in the arena-grasping introduction.
“First things first, I done heard the worst things. Like if I’m in your top ten, mine’s better be the first name…” Rocky explains in one of the more energized verse and production combinations that rely on this crushing and pulverizing bass that becomes a sensory overload. Rocky is cocky; acting as a monument that focuses on being singular and making the bass bounce off his voice to make this Earth-shattering boom and crunch. “I can feel the bass, from the ceiling to the basement. I don’t feel a thing, get the fuck up out my face, bitch. I don’t feel a thing, yeah I’m faded, yeah I’m shaded. I don’t feel a thing, I can feel the bass, I can feel the bass,” Rocky explains as “Distorted Records” floods into a remix of “A$AP Forever”.
Adding a Kid Cudi and T.I. feature, “A$AP Forever REMIX” changes the formula of “A$AP Forever” and rearranges some of the elements, working in some choruses behind the hooks and some more vocal samples that lead into Cudi’s verse. It changes the original and slows the mosh-pit function of “Distorted Records” into something a little more approachable and friendly on the ears. Rather than inducing strobe lights, “A$AP Forever REMIX” makes a church seem more suitable for TESTING as Rocky explains, “I put A$AP on my tat, I put New York on the map. I put the gang on the flames, they gon’ remember the name.”
There is then a call to action where A$AP Rocky decides to induce that same sort of vibrancy behind “Distorted Records” where the aggressive, truly transformative “Tony Tone” jumps right into the front seat. Rocky is more forward than ever as he screams, “I could give a fuck about a list, ya heard? I could give a fuck about a diss, ya heard? I could give a fuck about a clique, ya heard? Shut the fuck up before I rock your bitch, ya heard.” It takes that golden-grill smile where Rocky holds no bars and any sort of brace, it speeds through the red light and does so with no hands on the wheel. “Tony Tone” is a wild card among a record full of wild choices, “Truthfully, I just say what I really think. Like, I’m too fresh man to be an under-class man. Would say ‘suck my dick’ but that’s sexual harassment. Fuck around and really come through in the Merc’ (Mercedes) on ya, who else ya know design your stage and do your merch over.” In a vulgar display, Rocky is more watchable than ever as he truly shows disrespect but with merit behind him.
Each track on TESTING feels so incredibly different and able to stand entirely on its own. There is no need for any more energetic displays, no need for emotional tear-fuel, TESTING in the first three tracks is better than most entire discographies coming from signed artists. With a total of 15 tracks, there is not a single missed step and Rocky comes back harder than ever. He stands as a capitalization on the artist format, challenging the form of what it takes to create a perfect “rap” album, the perfect “musical” album, and the perfect display of art.