Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

ASAP Rocky – Purple Swag

… ‘coz this is only our third biggest scorer of the day.


Michelle Myers: ASAP Rocky has the grace to let us know up front the purpose of this track; with its slower-than-Mike-Jones beat, it’s ideal for individuals gettin’ high on the regular. The Tyler’s-Therapist-esque “swags” and the eerie “everything is purple” chorus make it delightfully trendy. If you’re looking for something to spark a bowl to, you could do a lot worse.

Pete Baran: I’m wary of songs about purple things; I find the legitimacy of their lyrics suspect. I am not sure where D12 got their Purple Pills from and Prince was surely hallucinating regarding the Purple Rain (even if it did come out of a Paisley sky). And while there is much to admire about As Soon As Possible Rocky’s song about purple sprouting broccoli, the lyrics are the low point. But musically it delivers what the song is really about: having eaten your vegetables, you can be happy that you’re healthy.

Brad Shoup: Hey, look, it’s hip-hop’s Sandi Thom! Nah, he’s just paying tribute to the original Based God. Either they’re still tipping in Harlem, or this is the blograp equivalent of duetting with Vashti Bunyan. Of course, screw music wasn’t about personalities, it was about provincialism and facing death bravely. While I believe concision is a virtue, this is basically a 1:40 song with a 30-second intermission pasted in. The interlude’s screwed vocal hews closer to the Houston spirit, and it deserves its own showcase.

Michaela Drapes: I will never, ever take any issue with anyone paying homage to the great Paul Wall: ASAP Rocky pulls chopping and screwing up to Harlem for the burned out, totally cached swag generation, with pretty excellent results. I’m starting to get a little tetchy about over-praising Internet mixtape phenoms with gorgeous videos, but a little nagging voice is whispering in my ear that these kids are totally legit. Someone’s sending me a FUCK SWAG t-shirt, right?

Jonathan Bradley: When DJ Screw began slowing records down in the early ’90s, it was drug music, designed to mimic the disorienting yawn of cough syrup imbibed recreationally. Screw’s tapes augmented his remixes with loose, fluid freestyles by local rappers, who, with their unhurried flowing, gave the music a languid camaraderie — something like “June 27th” feels like an extended hangout session. Young New York carpetbagger ASAP Rocky takes the Houston sound up north and reproduces its wooziness, but he also leans harder on the only intermittently present menace the pitched-down sounds produced in their original home. (Three 6 Mafia knew exactly how eerie screw could be, but Trip 6 tend to believe everything they touch should be eerie, whatever the pace.) “Purple Swag” is creepier than the average sizzurp-sippin’ tune and ends up as an inventive caricature of the Texas sound, with the style’s most prominent features misremembered and exaggerated. Here, the cavernous stretches are a compositional device rather than a production technique. The crate-digging New York ethos remains intact. 

Ian Mathers: Let’s compare “Purple Swag” to “Burn Slow.” That song is a classic example of telling instead of showing; this one, with its off-kilter sway, screwed voices intoning “everything is purple,” and beat mimicking heart arrhythmia, actually makes my head swim a little, even though the lyrics are mostly run-of-the-mill regional/personal braggadocio. That song sounded like a cheap reggae tune; this one is a faithful homage to DJ Screw with what could be a chunk of a second song showing up in the middle of it then fading away (more of an irruption than a faux guest verse). That song had a boring-ass look-at-us-all-smoke-weed video; this song’s boasts a funny/slightly uneasy use of white people that’s essential viewing. This is how you do drug-rap, folks.

Alfred Soto: Polyphony — as complement and aphrodisiac. Having only a fleeting acquaintance with DJ Screw’s productions, I wonder if he conjure tracks from mere trill, swag, purple, RZA-meets-Middle East distorto-riffs, and, best of all, Rocky snapping monosyllables as if they were the safety caps on syringes.

Andy Hutchins: It’s incredible how right a kid from Harlem (who probably heard it HOW-stun first, right?) gets every bit of this Houston homage. Purple drink, trillness, candy cars with dripping paint, boppers, screwed vocals, simple strings and synths that seem like they’re leaning, lyrics that hit because they are simple, the one-second Mike Jones sample: it’s Pimp shit. And Rocky’s got the sort of charisma Lil B has and Tyler wants, the ability to possess a moment effortlessly. (The video is hypnotic, too, but that’s really not the point.) And then there’s the “Peso” snippet: the beat switch-up, and “Swagger so impressive, and I don’t need a necklace.” Rappers this young typically don’t have that in their bag of tricks. ASAP ain’t typical.

5 Responses to “ASAP Rocky – Purple Swag”

  1. Aesop Rock sure sounds different than he used to.

  2. @Brad: That snippet is “Peso”: http://http//

  3. Today is all about wish fulfillment for me. Thanks.

  4. Ah, yes, “Peso” is more what I’m looking for, even if the original cut isn’t screwed.

  5. Um, duh, I forgot to mention Mike Jones, too. There, problem rectified.