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The Lowdown: If the earliest version of A$AP Rocky operated in purple and blue-ish hues, the new Rocky only paints with bright yellows and reds. Everything feels active. Rocky doesn’t ride beats so much as he bounces all over them, all while those same beats are tumbling all over the vessel they reside in.
The Good: Rocky has shown he’s more than willing to experiment and toss new ingredients into his pot in order to cook up entirely different meals. For some, this could be traced back to the death of his friend and curator A$AP Yams, and that may be true, but even in his earliest stages, Rocky has shown an enthusiasm for going against the grain in an effort to stand out among his peers. Those same qualities exist on tracks like “Fukk Sleep”, where he effortlessly shifts between energies on a song that somehow manages to be both soothing and ravaging.
The Bad: Testing feels bloated at times, and though its spastic nature is what leads to the album’s best moments, it also makes for plenty of uneven segments that drag it down. “Brotha Man” is unnecessary and, for some reason, tosses French Montana into a mix he never fit into. Rocky would have been better off keeping with the energetic standard he set earlier on rather than veering off to touch unnecessary bases.
The Verdict: Testing is loud, frenetic, spastic, and about as vibrant as rap can be. The songs are busy, crowded with radiant instrumentation and stacked vocals, and rarely take time to breathe. It’s a welcome addition to a genre that has become so occupied with spacey, bare-bones operations and overly simplistic results.
Essential Tracks: “Fukk Sleep” (ft. FKA twigs), “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)” (ft. Skepta), and “Purity” (ft. Frank Ocean)