With the one year anniversary of A$ap Rocky’s third studio album, Testing, approaching this week, I think it’s time we finally put some respect on it. Understandably, people need time for music to sink in and marinate with them. Hell, maybe even grow with it. But a lot of you are a year too late. Testing was always a great album, you guys just didn’t listen to us.
When we first discussed Testing, there was a lot of backlash. “This doesn’t sound like Rocky”. “This album didn’t slap”. Now, it could be because everyone was too immersed in the Drake/Pusha T/Kanye situation because Rocky dropped right in the middle of the shit. But let’s be real, this album didn’t connect with a lot of people due to the expectations that it would sound like “ALLA” and it didn’t.
The biggest issue people had with Testing was the music itself. But when it comes down to it, Rocky was doing things that weren’t traditional on purpose…and doing them well. We most recently heard how creative vocal layering could be executed on IGOR and When I Get Home. Rocky layered vocals in his own way on “Gunz N Butter” to the point where it almost seems like there’s two songs playing at the same time. And he’s matching the flow of that second song with his verses. This may have been annoying to some but it shows just how much you can do when using a sample. Also, he took us to Motown on “Brotha Man” with strings, keys and a lead melody that only appears on the right side of our headphones – a technique straight from the past. Y’all must have no soul to not appreciate this one.
I’d also like to bring up how instead of using the voicemail interlude trope we’ve all heard before he had a phone call verse on “CALLDROPS”…and did adlibs for said verse. “Changes” is a musical journey split into chapters across beat…changes. “Hun43rd” is classic Rocky — it actually sounds like it’s right off of Live Love A$ap; the old SGP trippy type of beat and layers of distorted vocals. “Black Tux, White Collar” is classic Rocky infused with dope experimentation.
So why did it take people a year to appreciate Testing? I wish I could tell you the answer but I do have an assumption. As consumers, we tend to go into our favorite artists’ new projects with a small hope that it sounds somewhat familiar. When it doesn’t, we write it off as a bad album but with Rocky his album title literally told you what this album was going to sound like — testing new sounds, testing new layers, testing new techniques.
Let’s discuss his rollout. In my opinion, this was my favorite rollout from the massive amounts of albums we got in 2018. Rocky didn’t do a typical press run — in fact, the only press he did was Desus and Mero, SNL, and of course his infamous AWGE DVD. If you paid close attention, Rocky has been using the black and yellow hazard sign “🚧”, crash test dummies, and construction site wardrobe to really give you the affect of testing. In NYC and LA, Rocky strategically placed these hazard stickers that connected to his testing app where you could hear snippets of the upcoming album. After a few months of the album being out, Rocky released his sneaker collaboration with Under Armour.
Rocky and the rest of the mob is known for dropping these dvd shorts of freestyles, behind the scenes of music videos, exclusive & unreleased videos, and just the whole mob enjoying each other’s company. Every mob fan knows, when this drops, that means Rocky is dropping or we’re getting a cozy tape. See below for our favorite one.
Now, don’t think we’re bashing you for loving the album because this isn’t it. We’re simply breaking down why it might’ve taken a lot of you to really enjoy the album… even if it was a year later. Nonetheless, welcome to the Testing Hive. Join us as we currently wait for his next album’s theme and hints that he’s dropping soon. For now, let’s stream Testing and enjoy the diverse sounds on this project.
This article was a collaboration with EIC @amaniwintour and culture writer @paullyb97