Bomb Factory, Dallas
Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
When Steven Rodriguez died in 2015, it was unclear what would happen to the Harlem hip-hop collective he founded, A$AP Mob. Rodriguez, better known as A$AP Yams, was the band's visionary leader and tastemaker.
Recovery from the loss has taken some time. A year after Yams’ death, A$AP Mob came together and released Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1. The mixtape featured a tribute to the fallen leader, “Yamborghini High,” and the cover art is a baby photo of Rodriguez.
In August, A$AP Twelvyy's debut album, 12, finally released; A$AP Ferg put out a mixtape, Still Striving; and A$AP Mob released Cozy Tapes, Vol 2. There are also hints of a new A$AP Rocky album on the way. This surge of new work suggested the collective is as strong as ever, and last night’s sold-out bash at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum appeared to be further proof.
Anticipation for the collective’s performance was palpable. The young, rowdy crowd pressed against the barricade toward the front of the stage.
There's no hierarchy in A$AP Mob, but sets from A$AP Ant, Nast and Twelvyy felt like openers. This was partly because they performed in front of a curtain — concealing the half of the stage that would be used for the bigger names — but the crowd’s reaction was also lukewarm to these tertiary members.
The curtain finally dropped, revealing two Lamborghinis converted into DJ booths to the opening notes to “Yamborghini High.” A$AP Rocky ran onstage with the rest of the Mob in tow. Rocky’s performance was a major improvement over the wordy, lackadaisical one he gave at South Side Ballroom the last time he was in town. Last night, Rocky was energized yet comfortable onstage. The night felt like a throwback to 2012, when A$AP Mob first made waves with rowdy shows at SXSW and Dallas’ House of Blues.
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Although A$AP Rocky played lead at Bomb Factory, this wasn’t his show — perhaps to the disappointment of some of the fans. The set list for the night largely comprised songs from the collective’s Cozy Tapes, such as “Crazy Brazy,” “Please Shut Up,” “Byf” and the hit “RAF.” The new music doesn’t feel as new or progressive as Lords Never Worry did.
A$AP Rocky is partly to blame for the fact fans anticipated hearing some of his solo material. He told the audience he would eventually get to his “Texas Trill shit." But songs such as “Peso,” “Purple Swag” and “Brand New Guy” never came up. A peek at the set list showed none of these were planned, either.
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A$AP Ferg performed some of his solo material, however. He muscled through tracks such as “Work,” “New Level,” “Shabba” and his newest hit, “Plain Jane." The crowd ate it up. As Bomb Factory's curfew approached, Rocky closed out the set with an amped-up performance of “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2.”
The show proved A$AP Mob still has a large fanbase, but its performance didn't feel as cohesive as in years past. The disparity between A$AP Rocky and Ferg and the rest of the collective was hard to ignore.
In the last year, the group has been influenced by its newest member, Playboi Carti, who wasn't a part of last night's show but is one of the faces of Atlanta's new rap generation. The collective may be losing its way without its original leader, but we can hope it will find another path with new members.