“I think I’m gonna go the visionary way. I don’t wanna be a follower.” — A$AP Rocky – Testing “Lab Rat”

On May 20, A$AP Rocky, with the help of Sotheby’s location on the fourth floor, Rocky tested his vision for his third studio album, TESTING. He did so through Lab Rat—a unique experiment that represents the body of work that Rocky put together.  I was never more sure of Rocky’s ability to create whatever it is he wants. I was also never sure, after listening to the album, that Rocky can execute fully on the music tip—the way I know he can. In order to deliver, you have to care. For the past three years, I couldn’t tell you whether or not Rocky’s heart is in the music or not.

photo: sotheby’s

“It’s unorthodox. I don’t completely know what I’m doing, I just know what I like and what I don’t like. That’s what people trust more than anything,” Rocky said.

There just happens to be a disconnect. The question always surfaces: Flacko where you been? He has his hands in a lot of pots, attempting to stir them each, as much his desire allows him.

During the Lab Rat event for Testing, Rocky was asked “what’s more important? Being organized or being adaptable?” “Adaptable,” Rocky responded.

Live.Love.A$AP was nearly 7 years ago (Oct. 2011). Being “different” isn’t anything special anymore—that’s sad to say. While Rocky and the Mob have influenced a severe amount of what’s going on, somewhere in between, the golden moment never came—the moment that stuck musically. The influence from the Mob is still so damn high, but that doesn’t all get credited to music.

It’s difficult because if Rocky went with another formula, this may interfere, severely with his astonishing delivery with visual art. And also, it may negatively affect the superb ideas that Rocky puts forth. Rocky even called in a professor of pyschedelic neuroscience and psychedelic assisted therapy into his studio session with Skepta.

“Painting vivid pictures, call me Basquiat Picasso,” – A$AP Rocky “Phoenix”

From an ear standpoint that is. Visually and conceptually, there aren’t too many I would put over A$AP Rocky. His eye for detail is amazing. In 2015, the vision reached new heights.

LSD, one of my favorite cuts from At.Long.Last.ASAP followed with an amazing visual to compliment the emotion given from the track. LSD is a risky decision by Rocky—one that he executed—one that he successfully painted the picture for in a Dexter Navy and Rocky-directed video. This is where Rocky succeed. The reward is in the risk.

Rocky continues to push the boundaries of a genre that remains in constant growth, yet, he doesn’t want to fall victim to what’s been done. Here’s where risk can turn bad.

Risk turned bad during TESTING. The music wasn’t bad,  but the imbalanced ratio of good moments to bad songs didn’t equal out to success. You may also find yourself wondering what is the main goal for Rocky making this album? I found Rocky talking about his hiatus, fashion, and being too busy. We’re human, I get that. However, there were moments where Rocky’s true potential didn’t shine when they needed to.

Many say that Rocky has hit his musical peak, but I would argue that his overall artistic crescendo has yet to come.

Lack of understanding does make it hard to enjoy anything.

Conceptually, Rocky is on the mark—he’s testing limits that don’t exist. Conceptually, the album, after all, is a test of different techniques that deserve to be represented by visual and not just through music. In order to fully enjoy ASAP Rocky, you have to connect with him through all of his mediums.

I’m not the artist that made this piece of work, TESTING that is, but I would love to piece together more of what makes A$AP Rocky one of the best. He may not be able to reach a certain plateau musically, yet his visual treatments are represented so beautifully, thoughtfully pleasurable.

The ideas are there, but can Rocky execute alone? Does the execution for Rocky matter more sonically or visually? Or is Rocky still lunging ahead of his time?