RCA Records
RCA Records

Whoever said “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” must have been talking about the A$AP Mob. The Harlem rap collective, lead by A$AP Rocky, has been steadily developing its own roster of talented rhymers and producers on a mainstream level for the better part of five years. Many assumed the Mob was simply Rocky’s band of brothers that would just tag along for the ride early on, but on the contrary, the Mob members have carved their own path.

A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Ant and even A$AP Bari have all garnered success sans Rocky’s immediate help. And as much as each rapper has been making waves on their own terms, as a collective, they still trump all. Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends isn’t so much of an introduction to one of rap’s most draped up and dripped out crews but instead more of a statement that when divided, they’re good, but when united they’re better.

It can be expected that every project the Mob releases from here on out will always carry an “RIP A$AP Yams” focal point based on the fact that it was Yams who started the whole A$AP movement in the first place. According to the cover art and first track, “Yamborghini High,” this project definitely checks that box as the Puerto Rican R. Kelly is mentioned and referenced on several occasions. His influence on the group is so blatantly clear that you can tell the Mob had Yams in mind while making each and every song.

The team doesn’t waste any time getting their posse prowess on, jumping into a bar-for-bar fest on “Crazy Brazy.” It isn’t necessarily a scripture-worthy bar brigade but Wavy Wallace’s hoppy beat lets Rocky, Twelvyy and Key mess around with simple rhymes that couldn’t be catchier. The Mob’s gritty New York rap roots shine through however on “Young Nigga Living.” Ferg, Ant and Twelvyy bring verses straight out of their deepest and darkest rhyme books that then get smeared all over DJ Smokey’s dreamy production. Ferg sums up the devils and angels of being a young Black success by saying, “Years of oppression, I'm feeling violated/And that's why my niggas be highly sedated/Addicted to money and driving new Ranges/Gone off the lean, want to stay faded/They can't even drink because their life is so jaded/I want to be clean but the world is so tainted/Ain't it?”

Out of all the “friends” featured on this project, there is none more integrated into the A$AP world than Playboi Carti. The rapper shows out big time on “London Town” while Rocky graces the Devon Lewis and Hector Delgado-crafted beat with slick talk and Ant of course delivers a few quotables. However, it's Carti that really styles the track with a quick eight-bar verse. Even if he isn’t an original member of the crew, he proves his place and fits the overall aesthetic.

Skepta, MadeinTYO, Lil Yachty, Offset, Onyx, Wiz Khalifa and BJ The Chicago Kid are amongst other guests on the project -- all of whom bring a natural energy that mirrors well with the Mob. It’s Tyler, The Creator though who rattles off the best verse out of anyone -- Mob members included. “Telephone Calls” has Plu2o Nash making one of the year’s hardest beats, which the Golf Wang captain proceeds to completely tear down. First he chirps all the high fashion hype beasts by saying, “My Vans are Vans 'cause Tyler does not fuck with Giuseppe/Fuck the Gucci, fuck the Raf/And fuck the swag and all that other shit they wearin'” and then stunts with “Nigga tax bracket changed, like have you seen my home?/Crib got a tennis court/Get my Venus and Serena on.”

The Mob’s synergy is clearly apparent on this album. Each member brings something fresh to the table whether it’s Ferg’s rapid-fire delivery, Nast’s layered lyrics, Ant’s hooks or Rocky’s swag-infused raps. When combined, Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends is solidified as a body of work that feels as real as it sounds.

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