Black Thought credits ASAP Rocky for 'new era' of NYC hip-hop, finds fault with Kanye's music

Split: Black Thought wears a black sweater and beanie; center, ASAP Rocky wears a black suit; Kanye West wears black jacket
The Roots' Black Thought, from left, praised ASAP Rocky's debut album and critiqued Kanye West's newer music. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press; Andy Kropa / Invision / Associated Press; Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)

Black Thought is giving credit where credit is due.

In a Pitchfork interview published Monday, the legendary Roots rapper spoke about the rap albums that have had a lasting impact on him over the last 50 years.

One album he made sure to highlight? ASAP Rocky's 2013 debut album "LONG.LIVE.ASAP."

"This album ushered in a new era of New York hip-hop. It’s so braggadocious, it’s so macho, it’s so Harlem. But it’s also genre-transcendent," Black Thought said. "He was able to blur the line between the New York hip-hop aesthetic — which was trending less at the time — and the aesthetic that was beginning to trend more: classic UGK, 8Ball and MJG. He was the bridge between dope and trill in a way that was very necessary."

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The "You Got Me" lyricist praised the New York rapper, who just welcomed his second child with Rihanna, for inspiring fellow artists to bring that same level of creativity to their music.

"New Yorkers who had creative blinders on and weren’t able to see beyond two feet in front of them began to adopt a different perspective in their process. Rocky represents the beginning of that for me," Black Thought said. "That whole ASAP crew were just good dudes. I really rocked with their movement."

And he sees similarities .

"I see elements of myself in ASAP Rocky, and later on I’d find out we share a birthday. He’s named after Rakim, who’s a huge influence of mine. He’s mellow. But he’s also one of those people I admire for his ability to continue to innovate."

Another album Black Thought featured on his list was Kanye West's game-changing 2008 LP "808s & Heartbreak."

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"With '808s,' it was the audacity. Like, “What the f—?” he said. "The level of bravery to destroy and build in the way Kanye did with that project, it’s admirable. That is the stuff of legend."

While he respects West's body of work, the Philadelphia MC has become more disconnected from the "Heartless" rapper, who has found himself in hot water over the last few years due to his inflammatory public comments.

"I connect with Kanye’s music less now. Maybe it’s because of the rate at which he’s been putting out art and having to keep up," Black Thought said. "I think his process has become more assembly-line, which in many ways is the Motown model. It works. I don’t know if anything’s lost, but what is sometimes compromised is the personality.

"The main person it’s supposed to be about is sometimes overshadowed by all these other writers, producers, and people who are contributing. Kanye is less Kanye now than he was when I was a bigger Kanye fan."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.