By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)
It’s funny to think of the tables turning to such an extent, in the music world at least, where Frank Ocean would be churning out track after track whilst mob ringleader A$AP Rocky would be relatively silent (the Harlem rapper’s last work was 2015’s At. Long. Last. ASAP). This is a world where the Conservatives have a majority and Pepe being killed off was international news so nothing is unusual in comparison, as shown by Rocky resurfacing with new rap pack track RAF, premiering on none other than Ocean‘s Apple Music show blonded (which has been a goldmine for some of this year’s best music: see Chanel for proof along with Biking and Lens).
Snippets of the track have been teased for months but now that we’ve finally got the full package, we can dive right on into it and we aren’t alone: putting the Ocean x Rocky collaboration aside, Lil Uzi Vert and Quavo make an appearance. RAF, if you weren’t already aware, is yet another track to reference to the eponymous clothing label though unlike Chanel, the track is less an introspective gem and more of a braggadocios epic. The minimalist beat, while nothing new, is solid enough and works as an appropriate backdrop to the artists who are the real focus of the song. Rocky puts in a solid verse, delivered with a trademark chillness which matches up with his lines about not feeling threatened by others. Unfortunately though, it’s not much to outshine those that he’s invited on here: Quavo sees eye to eye with him while Lil Uzi Vert delivers some humorous and slick wordplay (Hit that bitch I’m with my Life Savers /ooh, feel like Darth Vader)
Despite this, Ocean definitely stands out as the highlight with the track being given two different versions which allows us to see both sides on the fluid singer-songwriter: in the first version, we get a very staccato flow that borders on monotone though matches that of his adversaries on here though the second version, his trademark singing shines through and ends the song on a laid back high. Not much is known if this is just a side project or is just one snippet of Rocky‘s third LP but regardless, it paints an interesting picture for the New York style icon.