Interview by Joe La Puma
From SNEEZE NO.20 fall 2013
It is 12:30 in the afternoon on a blistering July in New York, one that’s turned Sixth Avenue into an urban canyon of exhaust and wet heat. Just off of it, relief of Arctic air conditioning in the RCA Polo Grounds lobby, bustling with corporate suits, hopeful musicians, and pushy publicists, each tribe thirsting from the streets. But not on thirteen.
On the 13th floor, A$AP Ferg rests at ease, pristine white-on-white Air Force 1s kicked up on a conference room table. Wearing a Tasmanian Devil tee with his own Trap Lord mesh shorts draped over his knees, Ferg’s intuitive comfort in any situation — the streets, this boardroom, the spotlight — perfectly epitomizes the force behind his rising stock.
But it doesn’t do it complete justice. Ferg’s runs counter to the status quo of rappers in 2013. He’s an aesthete who credits painting as not only his first love, but also his escape from the gravity of the music industry. When that outlier status is paired up with his knack for cranking out chant-driven, club couch-demolishing singles like “Work,” and his latest “Shabba,” it’s not hard to see why Ferg would find himself in position to be the next star of the Always Strive And Prosper Crew.
But first: the business of lunch. Ferg snaps out his silver fronts and places them on the table and dives into — what else? — a salad, as he talks about his forthcoming album Trap Lord, growing up in Harlem, and playing the Pippen to A$AP Rocky’s Jordan.
JOE LA PUMA: How did Harlem prepare you for traveling around the world?
A$AP FERG: It was tough but it was full of love at the same time. I experienced triumph in my life and I also experienced getting love. Style from Harlem is out of this world. Everybody is stylish. Even the brokest person is fly. You have no money in your pocket, but your sneakers are way fresh. I learned to look nice. People wear their hearts on their sleeves and we wear all of our success on our clothes.
Speaking of clothes, can you tell me about your early line, Devoni Clothing? What was your vision and how did you execute it?
I used to come up with these self-brands and just print shirts for money. I used to do something called “throwaway T-shirt lines.” I’d create a brand like “Harlem Up,” or I’d do little sublines to make quick money, like quick hustles. That became a fad in Harlem. I really went in on Devoni. Devoni comes from “Devonian,” which was a time and era of evolution. That’s what it stands for. I just looked at myself as the evolution of fashion. That’s why I cut it short to Devoni.
Your father was artistic, and worked tangentially in the music industry, what values did he instill in you that you carry to this day?
He said, “Never short change yourself,” and that was the last thing he said to me, ever. I remember the night before he died, I was telling him, “Yo, I feel like I can sell my shirts for more.” So he said, “Sell those shirts for more. Don’t be afraid. Whatever you feel like your stuff is worth. Don’t ever short change yourself.”
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