Music Review: ASAP Ferg - 'Always Strive and Prosper'

With such an uplifting album title, Harlem’s A$AP Ferg sets the expectation for positivity throughout: escaping the comfort of your surroundings, reaching beyond your circumstances to achieve your goals, quitting your job as an ice cream scooper.

That vibe exists, if you have a patient ear. Ferg describes this album as a full exercise in honesty, a one-time production the likes of which he may never release again. We think there’s more to be had in this area, and the first step may be stripping away the label-sanctioned additions.

Featured artists on sophomore efforts are typically enlisted based on name brand rather than artistic fit, and Prosper is no exception. The best tracks (“Let It Go,” “Psycho,” “Beautiful People”) seem to be creations of Ferg alone, and are naturally more compelling than the packaged collaborations intended for radio play.

Should Ferg continue down this road — grafting heartfelt authenticity to his dark, pulsing beats — he’ll have something destined to stand out in a swamp of droning rap. Always Strive and Prosper is a worthy step in that direction.

“Strive” ft. Missy Elliot

Smiley Sun Emoji Ferg introduces himself with an inspiring description of his rise from ice cream scooper to rap star, set, of course, to a 90’s-style dance beat. But the second half of his story never arrives. Instead, we’re treated to a so-so contribution from Missy Elliot.

“Get off your ass,” Ferg demands. The song is barely long enough for the listener to comply.

“New Level” ft. Future

An anthem bound for Vines of teenagers doing flashy things on those hover board deals. Fans of Future will not be disappointed by his predictably nonsensical verse. Worth a listen if you plan to incite a riot while standing on the hood of a rolling Ferrari.

“Swipe Life” ft. Rick Ross

Note: This song is not about Tinder.

An empty addition to the album, “Swipe Life” is neither positive nor honest. Breaking a long tradition of cash-laden rappers, Rick Ross joins Ferg to celebrate the purchasing ease of credit and debit cards. Most will be turned off by the beat, which sounds like a malfunctioning hearing sensitivity machine.

“Beautiful People” ft. Chuck D, Mama Ferg

The most uplifting track on the album opens with Chuck D putting your mind in a social consciousness pretzel with some spoken word poetry. Ferg’s mother makes a reassuring appearance, reminding you that you are beautiful, no matter what the magazines say.

More than most others, this song accurately represents the vibe the album’s title implies. Curiously, it follows the mindless “Uzi Gang,” a vehicle for introducing the unimpressive Lil Uzi Vert and Marty Baller.

“Let You Go”

Honesty spills out as Ferg addresses a longtime female partner. His artistic sensibilities, he claims, are to blame for the disrespect he slings her direction. It’s simply no way to treat a ride-or-die chick. I’m rooting for the kids.

“World Is Mine” ft. Big Sean

Most Big Sean songs are about coming from nothing and/or being on top. This track neatly fits that mold, complete with a lame verse from Sean himself loaded with shitty puns and similes. Skip if you listened to Dark Sky Paradise.

“I Love You” ft. Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign

The big-name features list rounds out with Chris Brown, who provides a hook for the customary “Girl Let’s Just You And Me Go To An Island Beach And Pop These Bottles, Just You And Me Girl” song from an otherwise bombastic rapper. |ES|

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