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A/D-Rocky’s Nuanced New Hip-hop Vibe

a/d-rocky

We first heard from A/D Rocky last summer, upon the release of his single “It’ll All B Over“. That track introduced The Static Dive readers to Ashton Chance Davis, a skilled young emcee with a quick wit and a taste for old-school hip-hop beats. The prolific 18 year-old rapper from Louisiana pairs deeply personal narratives with eclectic and creative production techniques.

Since his debut, A/D Rocky has dropped more than two dozen tracks to SoundCloud. What’s emerged is the portrait of a talented and complicated songwriter. He comes at his music from two very different versions of his own personality. Each is equally represented, creating a complex dichotomy.

Ashton Davis is A/D-Rocky’s forthcoming album. Although it is still in production, the rapper recently released an early cut of the record via his SoundCloud page. Throughout the 18-track set, the rapper’s two sides each present their views on life as seen through the eyes of a bright and talented teen, who has already lived through his share of hardships.  

On the one hand A/D-Rocky is a hard-partying hip-hop b-boy, smoking blunts and chasing girls. On the other hand, he is a thoughtful observer of human behavior. He tackles serious personal and societal issues from both angles.

From the dark family drama of “Life’s a Bitch” to the complex introspection of the closer “Enlightenment ”, A/D-Rocky reacts to our troubled world and his own life’s challenges. Sometimes that reaction is philosophical, as is the case on tracks like “Superficial Joy”, as he contemplates life beyond immediate self-gratification. Or on songs like “Respect” and “Walker 2”, in which the rapper digs deeply into matters of social justice and racial equality.

Elsewhere on the record, A/D-Rocky flips the bird in nihilistic glee. He slides between the two personas interchangeably, often responding to himself. The three-song arc “Fuck Love Freestyle”, “Find a Way” and “I Loved” is an excellent example. When contemplating his romantic history and past loves, the rapper is apologetic, caring, and dismissive, sometimes all at once. It is complicated stuff, and great writing.

Musically, A/D-Rocky is a student of the old-school, and of those modern rappers with the same mindset. He lists artists like Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and Lil Wayne as big influences on his sound. And like his heroes, he pairs his smart, verbose lyrical rhymes with a production aesthetic that recalls the Golden Age of boom-bap 90s hip-hop.

However, throughout the record A/D-Rocky matches that scene with a genre-fluid mix of beats. There is a cool jazz feel on tracks like “I Loved” and the excellent “Imperfect”. The latter is a real highpoint on the record, successfully blending all of the album’s stylistic eccentricities into one infectious catchy groove.

We dig 70’s soul vibes on tracks like “Get High”, “Somebody” and “It’ll All B Over”. A/D-Rocky even drops an 80s new wave jam on the excellent diss track “Ya’ll Some Pricks”. There’s also a laid-back psychedelic stoner vibe that runs throughout the record. In the end, these pieces all come together as a whole to create a very unique and exciting new sound from a promising young hip-hop artist.

Check out the “Imperfect” video below, or listen to the entire Ashton Davis playlist on SoundCloud. You can also hear the track “Somebody” on the Deep Indie Beat. Follow the links below to connect with A/D-Rocky. Get on his socials and get in the loop on all of the music to come from this talented new voice.

Connect with A/D Rocky