When I meet A$AP Rocky at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan– the kind where veal tomahawk chops go for $50 a pop – he’s trying to figure out the day’s itinerary. How to, in the next six hours, cram in a performance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, a shopping spree at Dior Homme and the New York premiere for the film he’s making his acting debut in – Rick Famuyiwa’s coming-of-age comedy, Dope. “I’ve been living like a black rock star,” he says, “I slept for an hour today – an hour and a half? – but I need more.”
That schedule also goes some way to understanding how the rapper – real name Rakim Mayers – has morphed, in fewer than five years, from the self-proclaimed “pretty motherfucker” from across 110th Street to the cocky figurehead of the A$AP Mob – the Harlem crew that revived New York hip-hop. But there are multiple sides to Rocky. Is he, as he raps, the Fashion Killa more interested in hanging out with designers Raf Simons and Rick Owens than making music? Or the lothario who, as his lyrics put it, has had too many Fuckin’ Problems? On one level, he might be considered the typically brash young rapper who sports pavé diamonds in his teeth, has a downtown penthouse in New York and a Hollywood pad, and chases Roger Sterling-esque mind expansion via psychedelic drugs. On the other, he says, he’s the humble, studious creative, would-be director and movie star. Rocky knows that some of the preconceptions about him are down to his entrance into the world of rap in 2011, which wasn’t exactly subtle. “Coming in I was so braggodocious: gold, bitches, all that other shit. Not a lot has changed,” he says. “I’m just a little more humble. I’m here to stand out, I’m not here to shit on people no more.”
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