As we approach the year mark of A$AP Yams’ passing, the mob stands shoulder to shoulder again having brought the heads together to deliver the highly anticipated first volume of Cozy Tapes, but also to reassess how they deliver their music as a collective.
Yams was firm with the future he envisaged for the mob, his time as the group’s creative visionary establishing him as a heavyweight marketing-mind at the helm of the mob’s operations, but above all that he was regarded by his affiliates as a close, respected friend. And like many of the more successful collectives, A$AP Mob brought a group of people together based not just on their shared taste and interest in music, but their natural friendships. It’s this friendship that ultimately held the keys to their success; Yams sought to re establish that early Mob mentality, returning the spotlight to the group’s most organic strengths. In its essence, Cozy Tapes is the completed works of the architect’s final blueprints.
But although hung under the banner of an A$AP Mob album, it’s a one man show; with Rocky featuring on nine of its twelve tracks, he is well and truly embraced as Mob boss. To put things into perspective, Ferg, widely considered the second-best talent in the Mob lineup, appears on just two. Rocky having been criticised for losing the balance of his music to his material obsessions flaunts his prowess and versatility as a rapper and not just as the group’s front man. The album sees Rocky succeed a number of different forms of flow, dictating beats that match the measure of his bars in a perpetually developing manner that cements Rocky centre stage.
However, that’s not to say Cozy Tapes doesn’t work well as an A$AP Mob release; the other members do take a back seat but provide a vital network of support to the Mob boss. Cozy Tapes sees them stumble back into their initial collective sound, hosting a bill of low-key producers that allows Rocky and his comrades to mould the tracks to sound exactly like the Mob was born to sound. Four years since the debut A$AP Mob mixtape Lord$NeverWorry, it seems the group has rethought the formula of the collective. Where Lord$NeverWorry sought to draw the spotlight away from Rocky and tease the talent out of the other members of the group, it was largely unsuccessful. Instead, harnessing their natural authenticity they have discovered their purpose as a cohesive collective. Although in the end Cozy Tapes became a memorial to its conceptive creator, it succeeds in capturing the weight found in the bonds of the friendship between the A$AP members, just as Yams had intended.
Words: Charlie Fyfe