The Return of A$AP Rocky

Tarak Jayachandran ’24 in Arts | April 1, 2022

On January 28, rapper A$AP Rocky was featured in the song “Arya” as part of Japanese DJ Nigo’s upcoming album I Know Nigo. For many Rocky fans, including me, this track was quite unexpected, and hearing Rocky’s voice was a pleasant surprise. Since he released his album Testing in 2018, Rocky has been pretty quiet in the music world aside from the recent re-release of his first studio album, Long.Live.A$AP.

“Arya” commences with a melodic piano chord before suddenly being interrupted by heavy percussion and snare drums. Rocky then hops on the track, begins his verse, and does what he does best––riding the beat to make the track flow, completely uninterrupted with the exception of his iconic “uh” adlibs. This song embodies the Rocky whom so many of us grew accustomed to in the mid-2010s, a time when the rap game seemed much simpler. Back then, the rap game placed utmost importance on the artist’s musicality without external influences (no drama and no distractions), and “Arya” represents exactly this: solid music. While the track is kept relatively simple, Rocky is still able to incorporate some element of experimentation; more importantly, he is given free reign to straight rap. 

Beyond the well-crafted musical elements, the visuals and rollout of this single were also on point and just what one would expect from Rocky, an artist who prioritizes captivating music videos he directs himself ever since his 2011 hit, “Peso.” Nigo premiered “Arya” at his first show as the fashion brand Kenzo’s creative director.  The song was first previewed on the FW22 runway, alongside other singles on Nigo’s album, and its quick appearance left fans anticipating its official release. In the single’s music video, Rocky is seen decked out in clothing from a variety of brands, including a Gucci-The North Face collaboration piece, Nigo’s brand Human Made, and his own label AWGE, while he drives around New York City, or his stomping grounds. The clothing and video aesthetic epitomizes who we know A$AP Rocky to be––bold, experimental and a style icon––and brings together the two worlds of music and fashion while also paying homage to his home, New York City. 

With rumors of a new Rocky album in the works, with its supposed arrival later this year, this single is a strong start. For those looking for something fresh in the rap world, “Arya” is a must-listen.