A$AP Rocky Is Bringing Back The Psychedelic Sound Jimi Hendrix Created
Before all of you music purists out there start bitching at me, I am not comparing A$AP Rocky's four-year career to what Jimi Hendrix has accomplished. At least, not yet.
On the surface, they don't even stack up. It's impossible to compare two artists separated by generations at completely different stages of their stories.
But what these men were both inspired by, represented and created is what separates them from any other artists of their respective eras.
Jimi Hendrix is the psychedelic rock icon who pioneered a whole era of music and created a new sound.
When Jimi Hendrix debuted his 1967 album, Are You Experienced?, he changed the game.
Taking the already formulated sound of rock and roll, he added new elements of jazz, blues and soul.
But his main ingredient? Drugs.
Sure, weed was becoming more popular around that time (even though they were smoking straight sticks), but psychedelic drugs like LSD inspired a lot of his music, and it's when you listen to that sound that you're also put in that state of mind.
A$AP Rocky is the 26-year-old rap star from Harlem who doesn't give a f*ck about a hater.
One of the biggest criticisms of Rocky is that he sounds nothing like a New York rapper. And he doesn't.
That said, he completely changed the sound of Harlem rap by taking elements of hip-hop from all over the world and making his sound completely unique.
By sampling styles from Houston and screw music, Cleveland with the Bone Thugs flow and the West Coast with a little bit of Pac, Rocky brought everything together as he continues to evolve.
Oh yeah, and he likes his drugs, too.
His lean-inspired track "Purple Swag" put him on the map.
The purple drink-inspired song wouldn't have gotten anywhere without its trippy video, which went viral and first got Rocky noticed.
Of course, lean is a lifestyle down in the south, where Houston artists like UGK and DJ Screw first made it popular.
But instead of stealing that sound, A$AP twists it and creates tributes that greats like Pimp C would appreciate. The druggy and spaced-out vibes he showed in his debut gave listeners a glimpse into his mind state.
Coincidentally, a lean overdose is how Rocky's partner in crime and mob cofounder, A$AP Yams, died back in January.
His latest video for "LSD" is a far departure from anything he's done before.
In a recent interview, A$AP Rocky recalled a recent visit to SxSW in Texas where Makonnen gave him some LSD that sent him on three consecutive orgies with nine different girls. Deadass.
The video above is also a byproduct of that experience, where he puts us in the "LOVE x $EX x DREAMS" state of mind he was in.
The funny thing is that songs like "LSD" and "Purple Swag" don't even fully represent Rocky's complex style.
Like Hendrix, he has the ability to draw inspiration from his drugs and put you into that exact feeling and moment.
Jimi Hendrix trail blazed that art by the time he dropped "Purple Haze" in 1967.
Hendrix once said music was his religion. And if that was the case, then he was the Pope.
He knew how to control emotions, put listeners in a mood and make people want to bang each other out. Before he passed in 1970, Jimi famously said,
He was also a rockstar before there were even any rules.
Everything you saw on stage is what you saw off of it.
The sex, drugs, breaking sh*t; it all reflected his personal life as he blurred the lines of being an artist and an individual.
In a way, Jimi Hendrix symbolized everything going on in America during the 1960s.
Between the war and the Civil Rights Movement, he expressed how everybody was really feeling -- or wanted to feel.
To let go and not give a f*ck about the rules was his version of the real American dream.
A$AP Rocky is a rockstar, too. Except he'll jump into the crowd and whoop your ass if you throw sh*t at him.
Rocky is as charismatic as they come, but more often than not, he's been an example of when keeping it real goes wrong.
In a way, he perfectly embodies our generation. His carefree attitude, ability to light up a room and bag any woman is what we all wish we had.
And the things that inspire him are some of the same things that inspired Jimi -- sex, drugs and creativity.
Like Hendrix, Rocky's work is transparent of the life he lives.
The story of Rakim Meyers (Rocky's real name) is an interesting one, to say the least.
But his rise to success is owed in large part of his entire team (the A$AP Mob), and that's something artists in the game today can't seem to do. It has to happen organically.
While Jimi Hendrix's career was wildly different, the freedom these artists represent at completely different eras couldn't be more similar.
At the end of the day, they both make dope music...
...And smoke hella trees.
As for Rocky's latest project, At. Long. Last. A$AP, Joe Fox -- a homeless musician he found on the streets of London at 4am who is now featured on the album five times -- only had three words to describe it:
Jimi Hendrix was the king of psychedelic hit-making, and I'm not saying A$AP Rocky is the prince, but who else is really out here doing it like him?
Music is a drug in itself, and its power is something artists like these two are able to approach differently because, well, they're just so damn high.