ASAP Mob brings along the coziest of friends for "Cozy Tapes Vol. 2."
October of last year marked the arrival of A$AP Mob’s first drop as a unit since 2012, four years after their Lords Never Worry outing and two years after the untimely passing of founding member Steven ‘A$AP Yams’ Rodriguez. This first iteration of the Cozy Tapes series, Friends, served as something more of a tribute to the late rapper, as the gang came together to pay homage to his memory and called on several industry heavyweights to join them in doing so. The result was a 12-track effort that alluded to the crew’s humble beginnings as comrades who simply wanted to make music together. Braggadocios motifs were in abundance and “good vibes” were the name of the game. Eight months later, the theme remains intact for their newest Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy.
Kicking off with a “Skool Bus Skit,” headed up by comedian Donterio Hundon, Too Cozy is very loosely bound together by three sketches where the crew finds themselves navigating the harrowed halls of the imaginary Yamborghini High.
“I'm cozy than a mothafucka in this school,” Hundon proclaims. “I ain't goin' nowhere.”
While the Mob stuffs every ingredient of their crew into the 17-track offering, they somehow leave room for dessert, adding a total of 17 additional voices in the mix, a gluttonous decision that can leave the audience feeling more bloated than satisfied. For the most part, easily identifiable voices belong to Rocky and Ferg, and depending on the type of fan, may extend to lower tiers of the Mob, such as Ant and Twelvyy -- but, still, it gets tiring when outliers of the crew are heaped into the pile.
A$AP pupil Playboi Carti leads the pack of visitors with eight separate appearances, and the Atlanta-reared emcee more than cements his presence among the Harlem-bred collective, taking on a brash persona that comes with the territory of jet setting with the Mob. “Ducking the T-M the Z, ooh/Fashion week bitch overseas, ooh,” Carti pegs on the project’s opening number “Perry Aye.” He’s joined on the track by Rocky and A$AP Nast, and Jaden Smith makes his sole arrival, taking control of the hook, “Me and Rocky sip the sake up in Paris/Eating calamari/Me and Carti at a party with some shawties/Say what's up to Bari, aye.”
Playboi and Smith are an appropriate introduction to a project that welcomes less-prominent members of the new school with open arms, including the likes of 15-year old Smooky MarGielaa, whose vocals pop up on four tracks. The self-appointed King of The Teens Lil Yachty shows up on the effervescent “Bahamas,” in a stacked cut that further features Key!, MarGielaa, and A$APs Rocky, Ferg, and Twelvvy. The track’s shining star, however, is Schoolboy Q, whose cameo provides much-needed weight to balance out a host of more laid-back, less memorable features. Sticklers of our beloved genre can also find solace in the fact that the lighthearted representatives of Hip-Hop’s evolution are contrasted by New York Hip-Hop torch-bearers Joey Bada$$, Kirk Knight, and Nyck Caution on the ensemble stand out “What Happens,” in tandem with Flatbush Zombie members Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice.
While overbearing, the extensive list of features does, however, present the unique opportunity for the core crew to surpass regional barriers. Notably, where New York has fallen behind on a trend of music that caters to vibes over lyricism, save for a few anomalies, A$AP Mob has never failed to color outside the lines absorbing a wide range of influences. They do a great job at complementing voices like Gucci Mane and Chief Keef without totally abandoning a traditionally New York-laden sound. Where production is concerned, Too Cozy excels at giving listeners equal parts of traditional backdrops in the forms of tracks like “Get the Bag,” and experimentally-focused cuts like “Blowin’ Minds (Skateboards),” flexing new-age production credits from the likes of Pi’erre Bourne.
On Vol. 2, we get to experience the carefree and lavish lifestyles of hip-hop’s rising stars by way of the tracklisting. The rotating cast of characters often moves from our ‘common-folk’ level to the upper echelons of fame, and it’s mostly dependent on who is on the track’s line-up. It’s only appropriate that well-known fashionable cats like Playboi, Jaden and Rocky would be on “Perry Aye,” whereas “FYBR” is the perfect track for counterparts like A$AP Twelvyy, Ant, Carti and Key!. Despite the chaos that comes with so many voices, there seems to be some sense and thought behind it. Still, there’s only so much variety one can expect. Throughout the project’s run, the subject matter doesn’t deviate much from easy living, reckless spending, and good old-fashioned fornication. In terms of creating a continuous body of work, this is mainly done by the use of thematic skits and keeping the host of “friends” limited, to an extent. Keeping in line with its predecessor, the project is a triumphant fanfare that displays the chemistry and the comradery of A$AP Mob and its associates.
Too Cozy’s heightened involvement of the Mob’s core members, outside of Rocky and Ferg, fills a void that Vol. 1 presented, in lack of a proper showcase of individual skill. Hearing more from Twelvvy, Nast, Ant, and Tyy this go around makes the Cozy series the family function it was always meant to be. While the swollen soundtrack presents a double-edged sword, the added group of outside features does the trick in including extended family members.