Album Review: A$AP Ferg - Always Strive and Prosper

If memory serves me correctly, I seem to recall that I did not much care for A$AP Ferg’s debut full-length album, Trap Lord. But my opinion on the A$AP Mob rapper started to sway with the mixtape he issued toward the end of 2014, Ferg Forever. 

On it, you could hear Ferg slowly dropping the persona he was trying to maintain on Trap Lord, letting people in, ever so slightly, on just how weird of a performer he could be if given the opportunity.

That opportunity has arrived in the form of Ferg’s most recent effort, the just released Always Strive and Prosper. It finds the rapper no longer slowly dropping anything—it finds him throwing the persona on the ground and smashing it to pieces.

I was initially hesitant to even listen to Always Strive and Prosper, simply because of how much I did not care for his debut—also, I was hesitant about any album released in 2016 that includes skits. SKITS! WHO DOES THAT IN 2016?

But my curiosity got the best of me and upon my first listen, I couldn’t help but be captivated by what it was I was hearing.

One of the main criticisms I’ve read so far about Always Strive and Prosper is that as a whole, the thing is kind of a hot mess—and I feel like that’s the point, or at least if it’s not the point, it’s what you are going to get from someone like Ferg when he’s working with major label money, myriad producers and a handful of guest performers.

Overflowing with a frenetic energy that can’t be contained, Ferg tries to funnel it as best he can into straight up bangers like the album’s thesis statement—“Hungry Ham,” and the 90s tinged, piano driven “Strive”; then later, the pulsating “Yammy Gang,”

The album takes a few surprising turns throughout—the somber, reflective “Let You Go,” as well as the personal one-two punch about his uncle, “Psycho” and “Let it Bang” are all rather impressive accomplishments when it comes to conveying their lyrical content—and the production aesthetics of both “Psycho” and “Let You Go” are also worth pointing out. The album itself sounds like it cost a fortune to make—everything is just gigantic sounding, but it works well with Ferg’s larger than life personality on the microphone.

In the end, Always Strive and Prosper is, by no means, any kind of life changing or affirming album; however, it’s compulsively listenable and incredibly enjoyable for what it is—which comes as a pleasant surprise, and is worth a listen, at least once, by even a passing fan of contemporary rap music.