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.”
A$AP Ferg is not like other rappers trying make their way in the fashion industry. Despite a successful music career, Ferg actually started off designing clothes. He graduated from art school; launched his own label, Devoni, which Chris Brown and Swizz Beatz are fans of; and has collaborated with brands like Young & Reckless and PacSun. Now, he’s entering the very tough denim industry with a collaboration with L.A. brand AGOLDE—the same project he’s been teasing on Instagram this past week.
The Trap Lord personally worked at AGOLDE’s factory during the production of the collection, learning the ins and outs of the denim industry while simultaneously contributing creatively to the range. The collection is inspired by his favorite pair of jeans, which he’s worn on tour, at fashion shows, and while riding BMX bikes. “I basically want to give the world a piece of me,” he says. The collection also includes T-shirts, a hoodie, and denim jackets—but it’s the jeans, he says, that he’s especially proud of.
We recently caught up with Ferg to talk to get the exclusive on his new denim collaboration, being inspired by Ralph Lauren, plus how the “Dope Walk” video with Cara Delevingne came about.
Ferg’s collaboration with AGOLDE launches Spring 2016.
A$AP Rocky is very high. We’re talking Jim Breuer in Half Baked. Brad Pitt in True Romance. Chris Tucker in Friday. Keanu Reeves in life.
He’s holed up in his hotel room in London. When I connect with him by phone, I say, “Hello?” All I hear on the other end is breathing, then a deep drag, followed by a glorious exhale. This lasts for about ten seconds. Finally, a hazy-sounding A$AP reveals himself.
What’s up, man? How you doin’?
It’s the second week of June, prior to tragic events of Charleston, and the 26-year-old rapper is flying high. His sophomore studio album, At.Long.Last.A$AP, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and Dope, which marks his feature acting debut, has been lauded by critics and audiences alike. Right now, A$AP Rocky doesn’t have a care in the world—except, that is, what he’s going to eat for supper.
“For the most part, the food is pretty shitty here,” he says of London. “But whatever.”
This food quandary is partially my fault. I mentioned my time studying in London close to a decade ago, and how difficult it was—as a New Yorker, especially—to find a nice, cheap lunch in a city sorely lacking in delis, bagels, tacos, and pizza. But this generalization was qualified to Mr. Rocky by admitting that the food situation across the pond had improved dramatically in the years since.
Congratulations, Rock—you’re one of the 20 Most Stylish Men Alive. In the magazine we’re showing a photo of you In Milan. You’re wearing—
Let me guess: The black leather moto jacket with the black ripped jeans and Hermès belt?
[Laughs] That’s one of my favorite outfits, bro.
Like Tupac, Ice Cube, Ice T, and many more rap stars before him, A$AP Rocky has turned his hand to acting and made his silver screen debut in the 90s hip hop comedy Dope. Rocky plays Dom, a drug dealer in a fictional Inglewood neighborhood named “The Bottoms.” To avoid arrest, Dom unloads a backpack filled with the titular dope on the film’s nerdy protagonist, Malcolm. But when he wants the goods returned, Dom becomes a man on a mission. i-D caught up with the rapper at Cannes and found out about how he fell into the role, how much love he’s got for P Diddy and how he doesn’t give a fuck about skin color.
Bypassing typical menswear-vernacular in pursuit of a fresher form is Astrid Andersen, who’s been crafting a dope, new dialect for lads since 2010. For SS16 she’s partnered with creative-king A$AP Ferg to create a track and accompanying video to properly notch her season, transcending the habitual monotony of fashion collections and transforming it into a multifaceted bomb of creativity.
Her sources of inspiration are organically comprehensive. Her executions on the old-age notion of luxuriousness: even more thorough – finishing off with a feminine warp and a slick insertion of modernity.
Red Bull Studios’ Catwalk Studio provided the kit to help the pair materialise their exacted concept. (Bull’s expertise in maturing fashion-concepts shine through previous projects including ‘Fred Butler x Charli XCX’ and ‘Alex Mattsson x Zebra Katz’.)
Rapper, designer – an almighty creative: A$AP is more than just a rapper – making this collab truly symbiotic. He inherited his artistic penchant from his father; attended art school; launched his own label; and could tell you more about the explosive Lagerfeld-Yves Saint Laurent spat than the average fashion-journalist. Speaking the same language is a concrete bond that Ferg and Astrid share.
Despite some of the hardships the past two years have presented him, with the passing of his father and A$AP Yams, Rocky has still managed to maintain and debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 chart. With so much happening, we had to ask where he was mentally at this stage of life and he assured us, everything is in good spirits along with the focus, drive and creative energy.
“I’m happy to be here, I feel inspired right now, I just want to create.”
During our discussion A$AP Rocky also made sure to share some of the intricate workings behindA.L.L.A., and of course addressed the critics who we feel kind of unfairly portrayed him these past few weeks.
“Nowadays you got cameras all up in your face, motherfuckers wanna know the grade school shit, and it just takes the thrill and suspense out of shit, so now it goes from a good dope album to oh now he’s just talking about bitches, then I become that guy who just talks about bitches, then next thing before you know it, women will think I only look at them as bitches and that’s not true. I just want to make it clear, I’m young, I do fun stuff, with women while I’m young, a bunch of young men do it and if you don’t fuck with me, suck a dick.”
A$AP Rocky hangs out with Big Boy in the studio, and discusses his creative process when writing; even dreaming about new songs. He goes into the music business and the politics within the industry. A$AP Rocky also dives into what it’s like being single, the state of hip-hop, and his new movie, “Dope”. Plus, much more!