It should be said from the start : when ASAP Rocky comes to Stockholm it is bigger than a regular hip hop concert. After this summer's events when he was held in Swedish detention and later sentenced to conditional mistreatment, he is a world political symbol and a wandering happening that engages far more than those who stuck to his early hits in the early 00s.
Of course, Little Sweden is not a major market for ASAP Rocky, but the image he can grow here can be spread all over the world. The staple of justice has given him a certain sacrificial role, which he does not seem to then spin on. Last summer there were rumors that he was ill-treated in the detention, something he certainly demented afterwards, and there was also talk that the detention would be racially motivated.
The record company Woah Dad was quick to tap Stockholm with Free ASAP Rocky posters and Donald Trump became involved in the case, judging by all that he saw as his chance to attract African American voters. At least that was the advice he should have received from US Ambassador Gordon Sondland when it went.
Although ASAP Rocky was sentenced in the district court, the image of him treated unfairly lives largely. The events have given him new fans who can identify with that particular role: to feel unfairly treated or judged in advance, or at least appreciate an underdog. By trying to play on the Kronoberg arrest and designing clothes for the interns and going to the Stockholm suburb of Husby (or as ASAP Rocky says "the slum where the police do not go") and offering them to go for free at the gig, he ties to the target group.
All this may sound cynical . But to the artist's defense, he himself thinks it is a way to give back to those in custody who have not received the same speedy treatment because, unlike him, they are not world stars. And the fact that he donates a portion of the concert proceeds to a refugee organization could of course be interpreted as playing greatness, but in fact also as a sincere apology since the guy he was convicted of abusing was just unaccompanied refugee.
Anyone who thought that ASAP Rocky would let the summer events remain uncommented on the Globe, had to think quickly. Instead, the entire gig is a kind of prison installation, with Rocky in the role of an escaped prisoner with the almost insane pleasure in his eyes.
It all starts with an exclamation in the speakers where a female voice says in Swedish: "This is a message to the inmates on the Kronoberg arrest, now the concert begins". On the stage stands a prison cage, inside male dancers representing interns, and atop the cage's roof, ASAP Rocky jumps up and down as if he wanted to crush the metal structure. Everyone wears the green soft clothing that ASAP designed for Kronobergsäktet and which, incidentally, is also visible everywhere in the audience because they were heeled as merchandise for the fans.
Speaker calls in Swedish return during the gig and although ASAP Rocky at the beginning of the concert says that he did not gather us to talk about Swedish authorities or Swedish-American politics, but for love and cohesion, he can not really stop. He screams that he wants to give a shout-out to everyone who has been locked into this "damn system" and he arranges a small sketch where he gets arrested by police on the scene.
The energy is soaring , he is on the verge of crazy, but also smart and funny and it is noticeable that he loves to be on stage. During the first five songs, the knees fly constantly and alternately up and down under the chin. ASAP Rocky does everything possible to create a party with fire pistols and smoke and confetti and when he does not think Stockholm's wildest and most tagged teenagers properly cleanse, he goes down himself and shows what a moshpit should look like.
ASAP Rocky is a skilled rapper, with fine flow. But above all, he manages to channel that craziness that hip hop is actually about. When he tears off Praise the Lord, he is irresistible and it becomes impossible to stand still. Babushka boi he rapes with skills and emotion but he also makes room for one of his few love ballads, LSD, a nice moment when Rocky suddenly stands still at the far end of the stage tongue and hugs and hugs in front of a mick rack like another crooner.
It's a shame that he loses speed and focus towards the end and completely neglects one of his biggest hits, Fucking problems. The carelessness gives the feeling that he has become more preoccupied with the events of the summer and the person ASAP Rocky, than the artist ASAP Rocky, and the music. But whatever you think about the narrative he now creates for himself, he makes a smart, stylish and meticulously planned show that at its best moments is entertainment at the highest level.