Instead of the more solemn vibe from some of the A$ap Mob members’ last works, “Cozy Tapes: Vol. 1 Friends” offers a tribute to Yams that is joyful, exciting and heartwarming at the same time.
The album’s endearing cover, a picture of baby A$ap Yams laughing happily atop a white, plush pillow, brings to the fore the goal of the mixtape: to honor the life of a man whose music and ability to navigate the industry brought his crew, the A$ap Mob, into the mainstream hip-hop world.
What’s fascinating about the album is it not only offers rare collaborations of rappers from across the various hip-hop genres and scenes but also shows a certain rawness present in friends coming together to devote a piece of art to their best friend, their ringleader. Their separate rap and melodic styles emerge in the album, allowing them each to display their own reactions and thoughts on their friend. These rappers, led by A$ap Rocky and the A$ap Mob, collaborate to create an album that, in spite of the plethora of features and individual styles throughout, is nearly as focused and streamlined as their individual pieces of work. Putting aside any past beef, they pay tribute to Yams in a way that is both individualized and well synthesized.
The first few songs on the album, from “Yamborghini High” to “Young N***a Living,” have the signature sound of A$ap Rocky throughout. But elements from other members of the A$ap Mob, like Ant and Nast, shine through. The other features, which range from Juicy J to UK grime rapper Skepta to rap newcomers Lil Uzi Vert and Lil Yachty, pair nicely with a sound that was spearheaded by A$ap Yams and is now recognized as unique to the A$ap Mob.
The Mob teased to the mixtape in January of this year when they released the first track, “Yamborghini High,” followed by other singles “Crazy Brazy,” “Money Man” and “Put That on my Set.”
While the album’s organization — with members of A$ap Mob and other friends divided among songs — can sometimes backfire, the listener can easily find the artists and songs he or she likes best in this format. If you’re a fan of A$ap Rocky’s signature lolling beats and deep-voiced appliques, you’ll like the first four tracks. If you like the melodic sound of Yachty or Uzi Vert’s rapping, listen to “Runner” and “Bachelor.”
Local DJ Mikayla Skinner (aka DJ Skin) put this phenomenon in words best: “This album is an identity album for A$ap Mob and everyone else featured on ‘Cozy Tapes.’” Almost immediately you can hear Juicy J’s entrance in “Yamborghini High.” Skepta’s crisp and clean raps — complete with a slight British accent — juxtapose Rocky’s cloudy drawl in “Put That on my Set.” Lil Uzi Vert and Yachty offer their youthful, melodic voices in their features, and Tyler, The Creator comes in on the last track with his signature hard and loud verses.
The subject matter of the album — the streets, drugs, money, women — are all tied to Yams. While the A$ap Mob does express sadness in his passing, “Cozy Tapes” is also a celebration of his life, his influence on the rap world and his work in making A$ap Mob successful. One of the more successful members of A$ap Mob, A$ap Ferg, sums it up in a line from “Yamborghini High”: “Yammy’s vision got us rich, catch a n**** flyin’ by in a Lambo.”
The last track of the mixtape, “Telephone,” has a rolling, creepy melody held together by the sound of a phone alert. The album ends on this tone, which eventually begins to sound like a pulse. Perhaps this insinuates another A$ap Mob collaboration, or perhaps it speaks to the level of influence Yams instilled in these artists, so much so that he lives on in facets of all their music.