Earlier this week we took a look at the Odd Future—one of two up-and-coming hip-hop crews whose aesthetic is likely to define the next few years of the genre. In the case of Odd Future, this cultural saturation has already begun (2012 was the year of the cat t-shirt), but when it comes to A$AP Mob, Odd Future’s East Coast counterpart, the process of sponge-like permeation lags a couple steps behind.
Though A$APs Rocky, Ant, Twelvyy and Ferg are fresher to the scene, they present no less impressive an artistic front than that of their West Coast competition. The points of separation between the two crews are numerous, and well worth plumbing for the fundamental differences they reveal.
Part 2: A$AP Mob
While the Odd Future’s ‘roided-out prankster aesthetic helps betray its suburban roots, A$AP Mob comes clearly cut from more intimidating cloth.
Consider the bright, primary colors employed in the video for Odd Future’s “Rella” in comparison to the urban, intentionally spare surround that shows up in A$AP Rocky’s breakout hit “Purple Swag.”
Aside from providing evidence for Odd Future’s greater facility with Final Cut Pro (sorry, A$AP Mob), these videos also establish a fundamental difference between the two in that A$AP Mob is willing to license the gangster shorthand of intimidation and sexual conquest, whereas Odd Future is more willing to cement its reputation solely by means of being, well, “odd.”
Both A$AP Mob and Odd Future are in the business of attracting attention to themselves, in part because of financial necessity, and in part (I suspect) because of personal preference. However, whereas Odd Future pursues this end by being as flamboyantly weird as it can manage, A$AP Mob takes a more relaxed tack, furnishing the pre-established conventions of East Coast gangster rap with its own, carefully selected embellishments.
Check out this video for A$AP Rocky’s “Wassup,” which features plenty of gangster rap touchstones (Ferraris, bling, fake piles of hundred-dollar bills), but tempers them with personal flourishes in the form of pentagrams, a purple color pallet and Rocky’s omnipresent, slogan-embossed hats.
A$AP Mob’s style features a good deal less polish than Odd Future, but this preference may wind up working to the crew’s advantage. Very little about A$AP Mob’s music or aesthetics seems affected, whereas Odd Future can appear at times like it has backed itself into a corner in which it has to “out-weird” itself or face obsolescence.
Odd Future might have gotten out of the gates earlier, but, at least judging from its extant offerings, it appears that A$AP Mob may have the greater staying power.