Local Wire

A$AP Rocky @ Celebrity Theatre

If you're hedging your bets on who will be the next big thing in hip-hop, you should probably wager on A$AP Rocky. The Harlem-born member of A$AP Mob struck a nerve with his 2011 mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP, which adroitly combined disparate elements like East Coast boom bap, ambient synths, and crushing Southern funk into a potent, mature blend. Rocky's flow, mostly concerning weed and women, is mellow but present, and he quickly caught the attention of RCA Records, which will issue his commercial debut, LongLiveA$AP. Originally scheduled for September 11, 2012, the release has been pushed back — as is often the case with hip-hop records — and features a collaboration with divisive indie pop singer Lana Del Rey. Like Del Rey, Rocky's hype threatens to overtake the conversation concerning his work, but his dynamic guest spot with Rihanna at the MTV Music Video Awards helps back up his claims as hip-hop's next breakout star, all without sacrificing his underground cred and uniquely transnational vibe.

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.