A$AP Mob Are In A New York State Of Mind & Look To Nas For Inspiration (Audio)

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One of the critiques that A$AP Mob faced when they began to emerge in 2011 was that their music did not sound like “New York Hip-Hop.” Rocky, in particular, unabashedly drew on Houston’s chopped and screwed sound on his early single, “Goldie,” and much of Ferg’s music kept in step with the trap beats that were coming out of Atlanta, at the time. When speaking about their sound, Rocky noted that many of his sonic influences when he was coming of age in the late 90s were artists from the Southern Cash Money and No Limit rosters, so, naturally, they would impact his sound. Additionally, many of the references to a specific “New York sound” were referencing a specific era in the mid-90s, and not necessarily reflective of how music, even in the Big Apple, has evolved. Since then, however, the Mob has shown that their tastes are diverse and do include elements of that more traditional sound.

A$AP Nast, in particular, has gravitated toward that specific dimension of Hip-Hop and, in 2013, he teamed with Method Man on the rough and rugged song, “Trillmatic.” Now, he and his A$AP brethren Twelvyy and Rocky have released “Presidents,” a song that incorporates one of the most recognized lines in the canon of New York Hip-Hop: Nas’ “I’m out for presidents to represent me,” from Illmatic‘s “The World Is Yours.” The line is known not only from Nas, but also Jay Z’s flip of it as the anchor for his “Dead Presidents,” and the aftermath that would follow that usage. The phrase’s deep history has made it quintessentially New York, and the A$AP Mob’s use of the hook is a clear nod to their hometown roots.

Beyond the Nas reference, the song’s boom bap drums and jazz-based loop are all hallmarks of the sound built by Q-Tip, DJ Premier, Pete Rock and many of the other sonic craftsmen of that mid-90s era. And, while the Mob likely will not allowed themselves to be put in a box, the song shows they are indeed carrying on tradition for those from the 5 boroughs that preceded them.