Deep Purple, ASAP Rocky’s debut mixtape, consisting of a scant six songs and a remix, starts off inauspiciously enough—with “Been Around The World,” a Houston-inflected relationship rap that begins with the Harlem spitter rapping as if he just woke up. It’s not until “Purple Swag,” the tape’s third track, that you fully understand why ASAP Rocky is one of the most buzzed-about rappers of recent memory—like his contemporaries in Main Attrakionz and Odd Future, he has the ability to create his own world. But unlike his peers, ASAP’s world is insular, cold, and unconventionally menacing.
“Purple Swag” is a majestic, slow-burning Clams Casino production, sees ASAP smoking a girl up and then having his way with her. “Get High,” meanwhile, sees ASAP, well, smoking a girl up and then having his way with her. Both tracks are woozy, hypnotizing, and if you listen to them closely, completely fucking terrifying. In other spots, the mood is lighter—“New York Bittersweet Symphony” samples the Verve song and is a “Juicy”-style come-up story, except ASAP Rocky is just now working his way up. “Uptown” is a budget-Tunnel banger in the truest sense of the term, ASAP Rocky and his boys engaging in serviceable shit-talk, repurposing for the hook a Lil Wayne vocal sample that, judging by the audio quality, is from a YouTube video.
Despite the cheapo production, the sampling of a truly cheesy song, and spending most of the mixtape not really discussing anything particular, Deep Purple is a success, mostly on the strength of ASAP Rocky’s potential—kid isn’t yet 20, and he’s already generated incredible amounts of buzz. As of now, it’s unclear whether or not he can sustain the hype and release a quality full-length. However, there are a lot of people rooting for him—not since the days of Cam’Ron and the Diplomats has a Harlem rapper been able to transcend the New York streets and subject the nation to his singular vision. If there’s anybody who can do it these days, it’s ASAP Rocky, whose ultimate asset on Deep Purple is his unending regality. As long as he doesn’t lose that, he should be just fine.