Last week A$AP Ferg released “Trap Lord,” a rap album with bass so heavy listeners just might get slapped with a 120-day sanction for disturbing the peace.
Ferg is one of the founding members of A$AP Mob, a rap collective based out of Harlem, New York, that emphasizes fashion and, of course, hip-hop. A$AP Mob has had previous success in the form of A$AP Rocky’s sophomore LP “Long Live A$AP,” which was released on Jan. 14, 2013. Combined with the popularity of Ferg’s single “Work” that was released earlier this year as well, a good amount of anticipation surrounded the release of “Trap Lord.”
A$AP Rocky, Waka Flocka Flame, and French Montana among others make up the supporting cast of “Trap Lord.” While these featured artists certainly carry their own weight, there is no question that Ferg is at the helm of this project. Ferg’s commanding vocals help prevent him from being upstaged, and he avoids the mistake of featuring too many guest musicians that other rappers often make.
Listening to the album as a whole, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Ferg’s most successful tracks are simply carried by great production rather than his own talent as a rapper. Ferg has trouble creating effective hooks on poorly produced tracks like “Make a Scene.” While he consistently brings energy and charisma, in some songs it’s not enough to make up for his lack of lyrical creativity. Luckily, the Trap subgenre of hip-hop relies heavily on hard-hitting 808’s and energetic vocals rather than intelligent lyrics. Even knowing this, “Trap Lord” still had me questioning just how big Ferg’s vocabulary really was.
To make matters worse, Ferg can’t sing, yet he tries to do just that multiple times on this album. “Hood Pope” and “Cocaine Castle” are almost entirely made up of Ferg’s off-pitch vocals, leaving me wondering how good this album could be if Ferg featured an actual singer on these tracks. These long, drawn out vocal nightmares take away from the tempo of the album.
Thematically, not much ties this LP together from one track to another. Ferg rarely delves deeper than the all too prevalent partying, hustling, and violence that seem to be almost cliché at this point in the genre. In most cases, however, Ferg pulls off the street thug bravado well.
The most powerful songs on “Trap Lord,” unsurprisingly, feature Ferg doing what he does best: rapping. “Let It Go,” “Shabba” feat. A$AP Rocky, and “Dump Dump” are sure to make any party a little more wild. These tracks are miles ahead of the rest of the album. “Let It Go” in particular showcases Ferg’s full potential. He seems to be perfectly entwined with the exotic sample and hypnotic rhythm, laying down top-notch verses and hooks for the duration of the song.
For fans of New York hip-hop, this album was released right in the nick of time. On Big Sean’s new single, “Control,” rapper Kendrick Lamar dropped a controversial verse in which he proclaimed himself the “King of New York.” Kendrick then proceeded to call out a slew of artists, including Ferg’s fellow A$AP crewmember, A$AP Rocky, for failing to do their part to push the boundaries of hip-hop further.
While New York hip-hop may not have a strong identity right now, A$AP Ferg’s debut album is certainly a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, inconsistent production and a lack of theme prevent this album from reaching it’s full potential. That being said, “Trap Lord“ is still worth a listen, if only to add some bass to your playlist.