There has long been a sort of familial structure behind some of the most successful entities in the rap game. Hip-hop families such as Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, Junior M.A.F.I.A and Death Row are representative of collectives that wield longstanding success.
The A$AP Mob—a rap collective from Harlem, New York, has been steadily developing its roster of talented rhymers and producers for the better part of five years.
In the A$AP family, Steven “A$AP Yams” Rodriguez was the father.
It isn’t easy to pinpoint the core of A$AP Yams’ influence on the Mob. After all, he wasn’t a rapper, a DJ, or a stylist. He wasn’t even an executive. Instead, he was a spirit guide, a muse and a curator of sonic ideas. The A$AP family attributes much of their success to A$AP Yams.
His untimely passing on January 28th , 2016 devastated both the A$AP Mob and hip-hop as a whole.
Before his death—an accidental drug overdose, A$AP Yams had begun working on an album that incorporated some of his favorite artists outside of the Mob.
Following blueprints left behind by A$AP Yams, the A$AP family dropped Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends—a tribute to their spirit guide and muse—on October, 31 st , 2016.
The album’s endearing cover— a picture of baby Yams laughing happily atop a white, plush pillow, brings forth the goal of the mixtape: to honor the life of a man whose ability to navigate the industry brought his crew from rags to riches.
The album opens with the song, “Yamborghini High”, in which Rocky and company live it up to the fullest, sipping from Styrofoam cups and riding around in foreign whips.
Clocking in at 12 tracks, the album has a diverse guest list and an expansive sonic palette. Features include Tyler, The Creator, Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, Lil Uzi and others. Though Yams has passed, his influence is very much alive.
Tyler, The Creator is full of energy on “Telephone Calls”, passing his friends from the A$AP Mob opportunities instead of blunts. It seems that things are only looking up for the Mob.
A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Ant and A$AP Bari have each garnered success of their own. As a collective, they trump all.
A heavily filtered horn sample brings things into cinematic New York City on “Put That On My Set”. The song, featuring Skepta, stands out as a result of its seriousness. Skepta raps, “man, I'm ready to die, my soul's in the sky. See the pain in my eyes. I don't wanna cry, put my life on the line. For my blood all the time, I see all the signs, but it's like they blind. Tryna kill me for mine.”
While the majority of Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends is influenced by modern hip hop, “Nasty’s World” feels more like a throwback. Over a sample of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s World,” A$AP Nast raps: “Check it out, yo', yo', yo', numero uno. I'm big dog, Cujo. Slamming rappers like a sumo.” His ability to lyrically compel is impressive.
Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends is the sound of a family coming together to celebrate the life and the legacy of their leader. The Mob’s tribute sheds light on the idea that there is indeed life after death.