You know the “psychedelic transformation” is complete when LSD – first tested on the public during secret government experiments – leaks out into the water table, percolates through countercultures, and establishes itself at last so thoroughly that folks who spell their names with dollar signs write ballads in its honor. Let’s pay respects where due: Kid Cudi got there first with Megaforce’s awesome video for his “Pursuit of Happiness;” the psychedelic urban ballad isn’t totally unprecedented (and, for real: what hip hop is today, hard rock was forty, fifty years ago, and Jimi Hendrix broke the ground for all these cats). But still, it’s testament to just how cozy these United States must be with talking tripping, now that LSD and not Cristal is drug of choice for lubricating “Love x $ex x Dreams.”
A$AP Rocky puts his money where his mouth is with this lovely video, which does its duty as an ad for psychedelic romance, no denying it – and then, hilariously, stops the record to enjoy the bill-collection comedown of the morning after, Rocky rapping in the broken mirror of a much less colorful (but still palatial) room about “I guess the new me is just gonn’ take some gettin’ used to.”
No kidding. He isn’t used to making love songs, but don’t you know, when ego walls get thin enough to see through, what you thought was recreation rears its head as re-creation, and real, cosmic love comes shining through that New-York-driven gangsta-ass machismo. It’s about damn time. About a decade passed in which it seemed that psychedelics might remain forever just another party drug to compliment the GHB and PCP, etc. confused as “drugs,” a single category, by the less-discriminating recipe enumerated in Tech N9ne’s “experience” (not to be confused with Jimi’s) – opposite, but equal to, the “Just Say No” campaign, a “Just Say Yes” to anything that gets you high, no lasting transformation acted on or pointed to or even possible. But maybe something’s shifted in the spirit of the age, where just enough of hip hop – Mos Def, Saul Williams, Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, and many others – has the balls to show its vulnerability. And now, as Rocky says, “Them other drugs just don’t fit me right.” Perhaps we’ve grown up just enough to drop the fronting and explore, and then reveal, the depths of our evolving, questioning, desiring, seeking souls.
There’s always going to be a niche for guns and hos and other adolescent bluster, but it’s looking more and more ridiculous with every passing day. When we’re confronted with the Mystery of Being and open our lives to make more room for it – as seems to be the case for A$AP Rocky – we’re forced to recognize how little nourishment there is in our old games of separation. As Jeff Buckley put it: “There’s no time for hatred – only questions.” A$AP Rocky leaves us wondering as all the pretty colors fade and credits roll…an honest and authentic way to share the open-ended wonder that both LSD the substance, and Love x $ex x Dreams, the great realities of life, bestow on any willing/earnest seeker.