ASAP Rocky, the flashy Harlem hip-hop star, just released his first major-label album, “Long.Live.ASAP” (Polo Grounds/RCA), which made its debut atop the Billboard album chart. Behind the scenes is ASAP Yams, his longtime friend and collaborator, who serves as something of a spirit guide, helping to shape Rocky’s hybrid hip-hop. Below are samples of Rocky’s songs, and excerpts from a conversation with Yams in which he discusses the influences — his and Rocky’s — that have driven Rocky’s career.
“We needed an introspective record for his album that really lets you into his life,” Yams said of this song, which ends “Long.Live.ASAP” (not counting bonus tracks), and which he likened to “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me),” the closing song from Jay-Z’s album “The Blueprint.” “It kind of lets you into what Rocky’s gone through the past year and a half, and on top of that, growing up, his family.”
“It was completely inspired by Master P,” Yams said of this dis record aimed at a former ASAP associate. “Master P was actually supposed to be on the hook originally. Master P inspired Rocky for that song as far as the flow. I wouldn’t say it sounds like P did like in ’97-’98; it would be more like something P would have done like in the ‘Ice Cream Man,’ ‘West Coast Bad Boyz’ time.” Yams also links “Jodye” to a long tradition of hip-hop feuds: “I think people misinterpret that record so much. That record is a classic move from a New York rapper: he took your style and dissed you with your own style and sounded better than you can, you feel me?”
Though Yams doesn’t guide Rocky’s sometimes outlandish fashion choices, he acknowledges the overlap between the rapper’s fashion and his music, especially on songs like this. “That was him having a chance to be cocky,” Yams said. “He’s literally bragging about trends that he started that everybody’s following this year.” The inspiration for that sort of trash talk: the fellow Harlem rapper and peacock Cam’ron, known for his intricate rhymes and his flamboyance, including wearing pink for a long spell in the early 2000s, starting a trend. Then, “when everybody was wearing pink, he disowned pink,” Yams recalled. “That’s just the whole Harlem mentality when it comes to fashion. When he sees too much people doing what he’s doing and doing it wrong on top of that, he’s just going to disown it.”
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