Who would have seen this coming?
“Tatted Angel” is the rebuttal to Hit-Boy and A$AP Ferg’s own decadence. “Niggas In Paris” was the most obvious triumph of black affluence popular music has ever seen. “Shabba” was an excuse to count jewelry in public. They were exuberant, proud, covered in gold, drunk. This is glum, sulking, rusted, and probably still drunk. They were celebrations, this is the eulogy.
Hit-Boy’s beat tumbles along, listing along a impermeable clouded twilight. A simple drumline undulates, shimmering along in limbo like streams of sunlight, only to be swallowed again in the purgatory. The dawn only squeaks through under the guise of a short saxophone solo, illuminating Ferg’s darkest hour. There’s a glean to it, a sort of unexpected warmth that’s by no means radiance; just light bouncing off headstones.
Everyone and their DJ has some anecdote about being too fucked up, but most sport it as a battle scar if a bad memory. This year more than ever rap has started to check all the partying. Future’s thinking the purple’s becoming a bit much. Kendrick’s homesick. And the A$AP Mob are in mourning. “Tatted Angel” is the survivor’s guilt. Future eyes deterioration in the mirror everyday, but Ferg had to watch addiction wither and pass his best friend. While Kendrick’s “u” shredded the walls with its fingernails in drunken stupor, agonizing over the fame that stripped him from his family, Ferg knows that bringing family on tour would have done them in. They would have started using. Then they’d be gone.
A$AP Yams died on January 18th. Ferg played a concert the next day, touching lightly on the passing in an interview directly following, but mostly spoke on his Ferg Forever. What was he supposed to say? Greif takes times to articulate and Yams was, after all, the thumping heart of A$AP. Almost a year later, I imagine this is exactly what he wanted to say. It’s hard to beat a chest when the heart can’t.