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$AP Yams.
After an incredible set at Wireless Festival in London, ASAP Ferg caught up with DJ Semtex for exclusive interview to get into details about the release of his latest album ‘Always Strive & Prosper’, the power of Hip Hop and the politics of race in the US.
Our interview series Icebreaker features artists talking about things—some strange, some amusing, some meaningful—that just might reveal their true selves. This edition features Harlem MC A$AP Ferg, whose new album Always Strive and Prosper is out now.
Who is a fictional character that you relate to?
Probably Jesus. He was trying to do good by his people most of the time, just trying to feed his disciples—his friends, his homies. They drank wine together. They broke bread together. I’m the same way.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Oh, definitely. I believe that this universe is so big—we can’t be the only enzymes walking around. There are one-cell creatures that we can’t see. There got to be ghosts.
If you could be in any band ever, which one would you choose?
Daft Punk. I’d be the third dude with my own helmet. Maybe I’d transform into a different Ferg—maybe Ferg would just disappear and I’d become somebody else.
Every year BET Awards weekend essentially serves as a large family reunion for the Black stars of music, television, movies, and sports. A central part of the 4-day extravaganza is the comedy and entertainment festival known as the BET Experience.
Fans in the Los Angeles area will get to take part in seminars, celebrity appearances, and performances from popular rappers. On June 25, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Fetty Wap, Tory Lanez, Ty Dolla $ign, and Kodak Black are scheduled to run through their hits at the Staples Center.
The Saturday line-up for the BET Experience will also include a set by A$AP Ferg. This will be the first time the Harlem native shows his skills on his own at the annual L.A. event.
A$AP Rocky loves runway. The first time this writer saw the artist at a show was Moschino menswear in Florence last summer, where he was recording every look with a Super 8 Camera. Today we caught up again at the presentation of J.W.Anderson’s dreamy, Little Prince–ish Spring 2017 mens collection in London. After the show we grabbed a few minutes to talk about his new collaboration with Anderson and what it takes to make him sweat.