A$AP Rocky (new album): A$AP is a unique staple of the rap game, much like Lil B, in that he’s able to mix ignorant, bass-laden trap songs like “Goldie” and the fantastic “F—in’ Problems” with song that are both genuine and lyrically skilled. Even in his banger songs, there is an undertone or an aura of being somehow above it all, and yet not condescending. LONG.LIVE.A$AP features 12 songs, about half of which are sure to stand the test of time. Sometimes the formula behind most of A$AP’s beats and hooks, which is to slap on a lot of bass and an artificially deep voice that sounds like a monster rambling on the track, gets a little tired, as in “Pain” or “LVL”. Most of the other songs, however, are both raunchy and clever, especially “PMW”, “Wild for the Night”, and “1Train”, which features about 40 mediocre rappers. The album’s final two songs, also, show A$AP’s capacity to convincingly pull off the emotional-rap shtick, though he warns fans not to call it “conscious rap” in “Suddenly”. This makes sense: for A$AP, if he’s not unconscious after having rolled one too many joints, it’s still more about the heart than the mind. 8/10.
Justin Timberlake (new single): Shortly after releasing a video announcing his comeback to music, mega-star Justin Timberlake dropped a new single, “Suit & Tie”, featuring Jay-Z. This song is far less dirty and synth-intensive than previous Timberlake classics like “SexyBack”, and as a result, it takes a few listens to really get used to. Then it becomes a burningly glitzy and classy tune from something like a hormonal Michael Bublé. Jay-Z’s verse, too, is excellent, recalling “Murder to Excellence” from Watch the Throne. “Suit & Tie” has so far divided Timberlake’s fan base; it’s good, in my opinion, but I’m hoping for some more “SexyBack”-esque tunes on Timberlake’s next album, due out this year. 6/10.
David Bowie (new single): The week’s other comeback was from an artist most high school student’s probably haven’t heard of, or heard, at that. David Bowie, glam-rock king of the 80s, released “Where Are We Now?” at midnight on his 66th birthday. The song’s lyrics are not quite as grand (or as understandable) as previous Bowie classics like “Heroes” or “Ziggy Stardust”, but the chorus is chilling. This song either clearly shows that Bowie has evolved musically, despite the fact that he hasn’t put out any music since 2003 or clearly shows that he’s burnt out entirely. However, this is Bowie, after all: if he wants to release a meditative slow-jam on the passing of time, despite a clearly aging set of pipes, then he’ll darn well do it. 6/10.