Rolling Stone - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "His head's in the stratosphere, but his mind is heavy with reality."
Spin - "[U]nderneath the glossy veneer, the worldly 27-year-old honors his fallen friend by expanding his consciousness, deepening his faith, and honing his craft..."
Entertainment Weekly - "The Harlem-bred MC, 27, dives headfirst down the rabbit hole on his hypnotic second studio album -- a record as steeped in murky psyche-delia as it is in the luxury-rap swagger of his star-making 2013 debut."
Billboard - "[T]his album is more expansive, more inclusive and much deeper, with a palette that dips into blues rock, Wu-Tang Clan, G-Funk, psychedelic folk and more."
NME (Magazine) - "ALLA is a thrillingly focused follow-up that betrays its anxieties even as it mostly makes do with extolling the virtues of vice."
Pitchfork (Website) - "Rocky's curatorial eye adopts a more intimate gaze, rendering his collage of disparate inspirations more like a mixtape made for a friend than a sterile exhibition space."
Recording information: Azari Studios, London; Clockwork Studios, Van Nuys, CA; Dean St. Studios, London; Dean Street Studios, London; Electric Lady Studios, NYC; Germany Studios, NYC; Mondo Studios, Hollywood, CA; No Excuses Studios, Los Angeles, CA; No Name Studios, Los Angeles, CA; Parkland Playhouse, Parkland, FL; Red Bull Studios, London; Sarm Studios, London; Slamhouse, Los Angeles, CA; The Purple Palace, NYC; Zelig Studios, London.
Photographer: Dexter Navy.
Graduating from good weed to good-trippin' LSD, rapper A$AP Rocky tunes in, drops out, and turns down for what on At. Long. Last. A$AP, a positive and psychedelic LP that is -- due to the death of A$AP Yams -- touched with the hippie version of wistful. Yams shares the executive producer credit with Danger Mouse, and there's plenty of evidence most of the album was finished before Yams passed, but the A$AP Mob's creative leader's death certainly bookends this effort, beginning with the sorrowful and sober opener, "Holy Ghost," an O Brother, Where Art Thou tribute that's just as wry, epic, and grave. On the closing highlight "Back Home" with guest Mos Def, Yams is sampled, giving an ambitious pep talk to the Mob before a railcar sound effect ushers him into the hereafter, and yet, the center of the album is entirely Rocky's own journey, one the returning listener can link to with murky stompers such as the Juicy J and UGK feature "Wavybone." Solo cut "Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2)" might be brother A$AP Ferg's hit single "Work" run backwards, but the rest of the album pushes the Mob sound into new territories, including the uptown and funky "Everyday," a Rod Stewart and Miguel feature that feels more like a Mark Ronson cut than Rocky's. It doesn't sound out of place, as this is the ambitious effort that offers Rocky's own "Strawberry Fields" in "L$D," an elaborate and glorious number where a woman's love and grace are a metaphor for psychedelics. Both are life-changing in the rapper's eyes, and as such, strip clubs now need more challenging anthems like "Electric Body," a bent and bent-over number featuring ScHoolboy Q. Lil Wayne is here for the swaggering "M'$" ("But my neck is gold, the rest is froze/Sex and hoes, best of both"), which comes off like a 45 got knocked out of its spindle and the earth's core is now a subwoofer, while the Kanye West bragger "Jukebox Joints" ("Man everything basic to Ye Guevara/That means Saint Laurent is my Zara") is both soulful enough to be on the Stones Throw label and strange enough to be on the Yeezus album. Too many tracks, too many guests, and too many ideas are all complaints that could be entertained, but like the drug LSD doesn't care that work starts at 9 a.m. tomorrow, the all-encompassing A.L.L.A. can't be bothered with life's tight schedule. The bold effort unfolds as it wants and deserves, so think of the album as A$AP in Wonderland, or the cloud rap genre revived and improved, or a sunshine kaleidoscope album à la Prince's Around the World in a Day that also comes with a touching and bittersweet tribute. ~ David Jeffries