A$AP Ferg, Still Striving | Album Review
East coast rapper A$AP Ferg comes back strong with his third studio album, ‘Still Striving.’ One word: bangers.
Cutting right to the chase, A$AP Ferg didn’t have the most success with his sophomore album, Always Strive and Prosper. Despite an awesome title and some solid moments (“Hungry Ham!”), folks did not partake of the album. Maybe it was because it was more experimental and at times, more pop-oriented than his grimy debut, Trap Lord. Regardless, it’s clear from the promo campaign of Still Striving that Ferg was returning hard.
“Trap and a Dream”
Still Striving gets off to a fast start with “Trap and a Dream,” featuring Meek Mill. One word: banger. The trap is alive and well, with malicious production comprising of trap percussion, sub bass, and hellish synths. A$AP Ferg is on autopilot from the jump, and the same can be said of a fully ‘turnt up’ Meek Mill.
After a mighty opening salvo, A$AP Ferg keeps things charged up to the nth degree. He enlists Cam’ron on the fierce “Rubberband Man.” The M.O. is the same: Biting rhymes, slick AF production, and unrelenting toughness. Completing a badass trio, “Olympian” trades Cam’ron in favor of Dave East. Given the grit of Dave East and Ferg, Still Striving keeps east coast rap going strong. Nothing brand-new results, but Ferg comparing himself to an Olympian is pretty sweet on the killer hook.
“What goes up, must come down.” After an electrifying start, Still Striving loses a bit of its luster. The good news is, it’s still good, if not a knockout punch. Lil Yachty joins A$AP Ferg for “Aww Yeah,” a better collaboration than expected, given the unevenness of the Teenage Emotions MC. Fundamentally, “Aww Yeah” continues to execute the script.
A$AP Ferg trades Lil Yachty for Nav on “What Do You Do.” This number remains slickly produced, with a kinder, gentler sound. Ferg is still overt, but there’s a bit more ‘chill’ here. Respectable, not a gem. “Coach Cartier” is repetitive, but has more of the spirit of the exceptional opening trio. Featuring Famous Dex, it checks off all boxes. Keeping the collaborations coming, Famous Dex is supplanted by Playboi Carti on “Mad Man,” another hard-hitter. Not the second coming, Ferg is definitely in his zone, returning to the magic of Trap Lord.
Two singles follow, standing out stronger within the context of the album. Maybe it’s the familiarity and brevity of “Plain Jane” that makes it shine bright. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s the first solo track from a star-studded Still Striving. No frets – Migos joins Ferg on “Nasty (Who Dat).” Like “Plain Jane,” its more impactful in the album setting. The hook is still ‘take it or leave it,’ but it’s definitely catchy nonetheless. Sans Offset, Takeoff and Quavo get the prize for the best verse – no offense Ferg.
Energy and momentum remain turnt on the first remix of the album, “The Mattress Remix.” Sex and reference to the male member are consistent throughout Still Striving, but really amped upon on “The Mattress.” Ferg has plenty of colleagues onboard: A$AP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Rich the Kid, and Famous Dex.
“One Night Savage”
Following “The Mattress” is tough – it ranks among the better songs. Unfortunately, “One Night Savage,” a sound joint, doesn’t replicate the same oomph. At least the Madeintyo feature is brief. Atonement arrives with the star-studded “East Coast Remix,” the best remix, and arguably, best song from the album. Providing the east coast support is Busta Rhymes, A$AP Rocky, Dave East, and French Montana. Busta Rhymes has the verse to beat. Rick Ross represents the south, while Snoop Dogg, representing the west coast, gives Busta a run for his money.
Still Striving could’ve ended with “East Coast Remix” – it’s a strong statement. However, two more songs follow. Penultimate joint “Nandos” remains tough and unapologetic, but isn’t the force of the crème de la crème. “Tango” closes the album respectably, sporting a hard beat and more thoughtful lyrics compared to most of the album.
Ultimately, Still Striving is a strong third album from A$AP Ferg. Some folks weren’t onboard with Always Strive and Prosper. Those who didn’t like that album will love the straightforward, all-in banger-status of Still Striving. No, Ferg doesn’t cover new ground, but throughout this album, it feels as if he’s in his lane.
Gems: “Trap and a Dream,” “Rubberband Man,” “Olympian,” “Plain Jane,” “Nasty (Who Dat),” and “East Coast Remix”