There's not much to it; after giving us a solid effort on 2016's Always Strive and Prosper, A$AP Ferg opts to play it safe on his followup mixtape, Still Striving. The project's title is deceptively ambitious — rather than build on last year's clearheaded introspection and lush beats, Ferg regresses lyrically, and pairs his bland rhymes with uninspired production that's hard to sit through.
It's not all bad: Ferg still has a knack for writing catchy hooks, and it shows. "Aww Yeah" and "Coach Cartier" are monotonous but infectious nonetheless. Thankfully, Ferg retains his sharp, distinct cadence, especially on songs like "The Mattress" and "East Coast." And "Tango" offers a sliver of the more evolved Ferg we saw in 2016.
These small details, however, aren't enough to overshadow the project's missteps. For much of the tape, Ferg is buried by the sheer volume of guest features, most of which are clumsy and unnecessary. The bulk of the production is bland and repetitive, undermining Ferg's spirited performances (see "Nandos" for the most glaring example). It's a lazy moment for the A$AP Mobster.
Going forward, let's hope Ferg strives for more. (RCA)