Never doubt the power of the Internet. For Playboi Carti, it changed his life. All 18 songs on his SoundCloud page have over one million plays, including “Broke Boi” and “Fetti,” which have collected over 13 million plays each. “I feel like niggas really be on my shit,” says the young rapper. “That’s why I’m picky about what I put on my SoundCloud. That’s why I’m taking time with my [first] mixtape. I‘m going crazy. If you look on my tracks, bro, it shows you my progression.”
Growing up in South Atlanta, the 21-year-old MC (born Jordan Carter) dabbled with hip-hop, but didn’t decide to take it seriously until his voice deepened while in his senior year at North Springs High School. Upon graduation, Carti moved to the Big Apple borough of The Bronx in order to focus more on music and change his scenery. Over the next eight months, he focused on recording and making relationships in hip-hop, especially with members of the A$AP Mob and sporadically put out a handful of songs to moderate success.
A$AP Nast, the rapper and 26-year-old cousin to Rocky, stands by a rack of clothing. He inspects the fabrics and fits with unusual precision and tries on a pair of ballooning Yohji Yamamoto pants. Nast’s love of fashion is emblematic of a movement in rap, one that the A$AP Mob collective has popularized and propagated. At this time, the job description of the hip hop star has ventured into areas previously unknown—from mentoring fans in his Instagram comments to preferring thrift shopping field trips over breakfast. Nast’s grunge-inspired music taps into the soul of ultimate teenage angst to create work that represents the hybridized magic that is the future of hip hop. And the collective that surrounds him has perfected the solitary art of this rewritten rule: loneliness is fun when you do it together.
Kevin Pires spoke to A$AP Nast on a rainy LA evening about what it means to be a rapper for the new millennium, the communal listening habits that define us, and the style that took him worldwide.
On the newest episode of GGN, Rocky and Snoop talk about music, fashion, the eras they most closely identify with, how beef gets blown out of proportion, being ridiculously high, and more. Get a taste of the tastemakers’ convo above and watch the full interview on Apple Music.
Imagine growing up in Harlem and Nike asking you to make your own pair of Air Force 1s or, as you’d call them, Uptowns. That’s exactly what ASAP Bari is dealing with right now, as his clothing brand, VLONE, is the most recent collaboration on the sneaker that’s approaching its 35th birthday.
The sneakers themselves are black with orange highlights, made from premium leather, and debuting at ComplexCon, which is going down right now in Long Beach, California. We had the opportunity to talk to Bari about what this project means to him and his neighborhood. Edison Chen, the Hong Kong entertainment mogul and co-founder of CLOT, was also able to provide insights on why the Air Force 1 remains a massive sneaker almost three and a half decades after they were first released.
It’s been a long time coming, but as promised A$AP Mob has officially released their studio album Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends. The album’s cover clearly pays tribute to their late member A$AP Yams, while the tracks live up to the name “Friends” by not only featuring members of the Mob, but also a slew of artists they co-sign. There’s no shortage of up-and-coming rappers on the album as Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Madeintyo and Playboi Carti all drop verses; while “Nasty’s World” serves as a refreshing track featuring Onyx, a group that helped pave the way for many of today’s hip-hop collectives – including A$AP Mob. Tyler, the Creator also has a noteworthy contribution on the final track of the album “Telephone Calls” with friend/tourmate A$AP Rocky.
Despite the Mob’s frontman A$AP Rocky being seemingly everywhere over the past year, he still manages to appease his fans by hopping on a list of the Cozy tracks. Few artists in hip-hop have been able to navigate different worlds with as much success as Rocky, who has managed to solidify spots in music, high fashion and film. Adding to the impressive list of accolades is his recent partnership with MTV, where he’s landed a major role as a creative for the network. All of these achievements are a testament to his star power and with no signs of letting up anytime soon, it’s clear that Flacko’s in the game for the long haul.
We caught up with A$AP Rocky at a private Cozy Tapes listening session held in Los Angeles to ask him about the new album, his creative work with MTV and his hectic lifestyle. Check out the full discussion with Rocky below as he almost slips up to reveal some major upcoming personal projects in the works.
A$AP Yams may no longer be here in a physical form, but his vision is still alive and well. The Harlem-born musical genius behind the success of A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg and A$AP Mob as a whole is seeing his passion project come to fruition with Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends, the star-studded compilation project that Yammy always dreamed of. (His baby photo graces the album artwork).
The Mob—aforementioned breakout stars Rocky and Ferg, plus A$AP Nast, A$AP Twelvyy and A$AP Ant—banded together while mourning its visionary, who died of an accidental drug overdose in Jan. 2015. But the compilation album has been a long time coming. A$AP Mob dropped its freebie debut mixtape Lord$ Never Worry back in 2012, setting the stage for a proper studio project called L.O.R.D.. A$AP Nast led the way with the uber ‘90s nostalgia of “Trillmatic” in Dec. 2013, followed by A$AP Twelvyy’s “Xscape” and posse cut “Hella Hoes.” Yet after six months of album delays, Yams gave fans an update via his Tumblr account in Sept. 2014. “L.O.R.D. IS SCRAPPED,” he wrote, later citing “too many energies” and inability to “get everybody on the same page.”
But Yams had been filling his own pages with ideas for the project that would become A$AP Mob’s version of Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers—notes that are now in the possession of fashion-forward superstar and de facto leader A$AP Rocky.
Three days before the Halloween release of Cozy Tapes, Rocky sits back in a dark, smoky room at Hollywood’s famed Record Plant studio, rocking a black hoodie and ultra-wide black pants—a look he describes as “goth cozy.” He chats with Genius about the project’s recording process, eclectic influences, big-name guest list, and Yams’ guidance from beyond.
“It’s like the X-Men, and we’re a group of mutants,” says A$AP Bari of Vlone, the cult-fashion label that he helms alongside A$AP Rocky. “I’m Professor X just trying to bring people together to change the world.” To continue the metaphor, these mutants’ special powers are, essentially, their own fiercely particular type of personal style, or as Bari puts it, “Everybody that’s a part of Vlone has his own thoughts and creative vibe.” In the three years since the brand launched, it has garnered a following that extends far beyond the A$AP Mob: Fashion-forward music impresarios like Kanye West and Wiz Khalifa have worn the line, drawn to it for its various street-culled inspirations. This season, that translated into working with Virgil Abloh of Off-White on some pieces, as well as casting fellow rapper Lil Uzi Vert to model for the lookbook.
“Uzi is a young, up-and-coming artist, and he’s living the Vlone lifestyle,” said Bari. The Lamborghini convertible and Yamaha motorcycle featured in the shoot are there to represent the artist’s dreams realized. “Having the car he has always wanted, the bike he’s always wanted,” said Bari, “doing the things he likes to do. It might seem bourgeoisie or whatever, but it’s really about Uzi being happy in life.” The casting was a matter of art imitating life. Bari first met Uzi after he gave a shout-out to Vlone on his track “Ready Set Go (VLone).” Bari also liked Uzi’s laissez-faire approach to style. “He doesn’t care what he wears—he’s a rock star, and that’s why I love him,” said Bari. “He’s not a follower. He doesn’t dress like me or Rocky.” And as for the other half of Vlone, Bari says it’s a creative partnership the pair share, with the two engaged in something of a constant discussion. “Sometime I take Rocky’s suggestions, and sometimes he takes my suggestions,” said Bari. “Everything, including the design process, is based on a freestyle . . . back and forth, and we brainstorm.”
In the summer of 2011 Harlem’s A$AP Mob became the centre of the pop culture universe: the Givenchy wearing, jiggy eye of the storm around them. Of the twelve or so members, it was pretty boy A$AP Rocky who rapidly landed major label deals, magazine covers and fashion co-signs, while his comrade A$AP Ferg emerged as the masterly “rappers rapper”. For Ferg-Darold Ferguson Jr. to his loved ones-celebrity wasn’t quite the perfect fit that it looked like for Rocky. Ferguson became depressed and built an armour of bravado that was the “Trap Lord” persona we witnessed muggin’ through hits like his debut Work and 2013’s monster, Shabba.
Ferg was making great music, but it was separate from his true self-it wasn’t an honest extension of his being. After a life changing encounter with a fan who survived cancer, Ferg carved out a new artistic path that would see his second album re-introduce the rawest A$AP Ferg to his fans.
The new Ferg arrives in Always Strive and Prosper-aka ASAP. It’s an album that deals with the uncomfortable realities of celebrity whilst telling intimate tales of his childhood and youth starring family, friends and lovers. The album boasts verses from Missy Elliot, Rick Ross, Future and Chuck D that sit perfectly next to cameos from his mother, grandma and the mother of fallen friend, A$AP Mob founder, A$AP Yams.