On January 18th, 2015 authorities were alerted that A$AP Yams was found unresponsive in his Brooklyn apartment. The New York City chief medical examiner ruled that Yams passed away of an acute mixed-drug overdose.
The 26 year old was co-owner of hip hop collective and record label A$AP Worldwide. The collective was formed in 2006 in Harlem, New York by A$AP Illz, Bari, and, most notably, the late Yams. During their stint, they dropped an admittedly disappointing mixtape titled Lords Never Worryback in 2012. Now, nearly two years after Yams death comes the rap supergroup’s first full length album, Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1. The album is both an homage to the late A$AP Yams legacy and a diverse showcase of up-and-coming talent.
Cozy Tapes touts an extensive list of features from Wiz Khalifa, BJ the Chicago Kid, Skepta, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Tyler, the Creator, Juicy J, MadeinTYO, and Migos’ Offset.
Collaboration is key to evolving within the music industry, especially in the rap game. It comes as no secret that an album released in the wake of A$AP Yams death features a large list of collaborators. According to Billboard, A$AP Rocky recalls A$AP Yams approaching artists such as Bobby Brown and Jermaine Dupri. Another members of A$AP Mob have reflected on Yam’s amiable personality. “[He’d] start telling them facts he knew about him. He was a young legend,” recalls the album’s co-producer Hector Delgado, adding that “He really built the blueprint we run off of now. The album features all of the artists he liked.”
The album is a structural decampment from A$AP Mob’s previous single ‘Xscape’ and the rhythmic ‘Trillmatic’ which were released in 2014 and 2013 respectively. The supergroup manages to cover a considerable amount of ground on their first feature debut, and the album’s features give it a diverse personality. The features tend to increase its overall accessibility without entirely sacrificing the distinct fluidity which made the group’s seminal releases so unique. At its worst, the album is a shift towards a more easily approachable collection of dance floor hits; at its best, A$AP Mob takes tremendous strides in the artistic development of their already worldwide brand presence.
With notable features from Juicy J, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Yachty, tracks ‘Yamborghini High,’ ‘Bachelor,’ and ‘Runner’ are naturally the album’s most accessible hits, but even the album’s most congenial dance floor ballads still possess many of the industrial characteristics that indicate that A$AP Mob is not even coming close to sacrificing their creative vision. On the other hand, tracks like ‘Young N**** Living’ and ‘Put That On My Set’ explore new stylistic approaches that explore the rougher and amorous aspects of A$AP Rocky’s charismatic persona. ‘Put That On My Set’ features an appearance from English grime artist Skepta, which gives the track a unique personality.
The final track ‘Telephone Calls’ is the album’s most important stylistic illustration. The track, which features guest appearances from Tyler, The Creator, Playboi Carti, and Young Gleesh, is highlighted by a rugged trap beat best played on powerful subs. Tyler, The Creator’s characteristically off kilter, violent verse on the track might be the highlight of the album. He goes in with a sense of authority that most rappers wouldn’t dream of owning.
Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1 Is a testament to A$AP Mob’s authenticity, as A$AP Rocky raps “Holy tabernacle, missiles snap your favorite rapper Greedy for the fat guy’s platter Killin’ niggas even though black lives matter” you can’t help but feel that the album is from a place of genuine unrest, the same place that brought A$AP Mob to the top of the rap sphere.
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