Where do I even start on this one? A$AP Ferg, a.k.a. the self proclaimed “Trap Lord,” comes out with his second record, Always Strive and Prosper, which honestly not only keeps the A.S.A.P. acronym, but is going to drive me crazy if Ferg & A$AP Rocky keep naming their albums similar titles. It’s going to be even more of a pain in the ass to refer to them in conversation every time they make a new record.
Lucky for us however, Always Strive and Prosper probably isn’t going to break the conversation barrier any more than a “that was bad, let’s never speak of it.” As a casual fan of A$AP Rocky’s material here and there, it’s easy to say that I’ve never been a fan of A$AP Ferg, the A$AP Mob’s number 2, though it’s not like I can name anyone else in that entire group other than those two.
I mean sure, “Hood Pope” and “Shabba” off of Trap Lord, his official debut, had some quirky vocals and were at least memorable if not completely annoying, but on this new record, it’s almost as if Ferg is trying to make the most commercially produced trap rap album of all time. Ferg really throws caution to the wind when it comes to forming an “album” of material, and the record’s content seems so focus group based, that it’s as if they decided it was going to be the new pop standard 18-track long album of “singles” grouped together. I can see the “team” behind the record sitting there planning the record like, “and we have to have an EDM song, some trap-house, and a dance number, and a break-up song, and a song about everyone living peacefully together, and a song before that one about gang life, and a song before that one about spending money recklessly, and a song about his family,” etc., it’s just all over the place.
All of the choruses are just short repetitive phrases monotonously echoed about eight times per hook, and none of it lands. “Hungry Ham” might be one of the most annoying songs possible and it’s smack dab at the #2 spot, really the first full song on the record. “Strive” sounds like a Macklemore & Ryan Lewis track from their god awful sophomore release most people probably don’t even know exist (and we still gave them a Grammy over Kendrick). There’s two songs and a skit just dedicated to describing the life of his uncle, and loads of material I can’t even remember how it goes even though I just listened to the record.
The track “Beautiful People” is a great concept, but the fact that it’s so out of place here on this bouncing off the walls, topic-to-topic album like a glitched out PowerPoint presentation, plus no actual Chuck D feature except for some lines on the intro, that it’s just such wasted talent. It’s something most people probably aren’t even going to hear unless they make it to track 11 without giving up already. It’s not anything Kendrick couldn’t kill given the opportunity, his name mainly pops up here because of the DJ Khalil production, someone he works with a lot, but instead I have to hear Ferg ramble, maybe writing 40 words per song, as if we had to hear every word explicitly the first time.
When it all comes down to it, the record is too long, clocking in at 18 tracks and still all under an hour, though it feels like a life time by the time you’re all the way through. Bluntly speaking, as if I already hadn’t been, A$AP Ferg just greatly disappointed regarding any semblance of Trap Lord being a stepping stone to something greater down the road with this record. Definitely one of the worst records I’ve heard this year thus far.