When I first interviewed Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky, in the fall of 2011, we talked in the small common room in the midtown offices of RCA subdivision Polo Grounds. The then-23-year-old had just signed his major-label deal and was preparing the release of his first mixtape, LIVELOVEA$AP. After fielding questions from rap bloggers all afternoon, he was drooped over an armchair and grinning non-stop.
Now, it’s December 2012, and I’m sitting in a glitzier conference room in RCA parent company Sony’s main building, 25 blocks uptown. Rocky is running a bit behind schedule. When he arrives, the rapper born Rakim Meyers sounds distressed as he plots where he’ll stay in his hometown that evening– trendy hotel names and $2,000-per-night figures are thrown around.