A$AP Ferg is tucked in the back of the Crosby Bar at New York’s Crosby Hotel, and he’s feeling under the weather. He’s wearing an inside out sweatshirt with “PSYCHO” emblazoned on the front, made by his uncle (the “Psycho” on his latest album), along with Adidas track pants and a pair of his Trap Lord x Adi Ease kicks from his Adidas collection. A packed press schedule is stopping him from getting better, but he’s in good spirits eating poached salmon with quinoa and sweet potatoes, while sipping on a glass of Riesling. I casually recite Kanye West’s “beasting off the Riesling” line and Ferg perks up a bit. “Kanye’s so funny because I’m just hearing from madd different sources, like he must’ve been jamming the songs I put out ‘cause he went on Twitter and said he loves my album,” he says with a warm smile. “I heard from somebody that’s working with him in Germany that Kanye said I’m his favorite artist.” Despite being arguably at the top of his game, things like that still mean something to A$AP Ferg.
Born Darold Ferguson Jr., Ferg was raised on 143rd Street between Amsterdam and Broadway in Harlem’s Hamilton Heights (“Hungry Ham,” if you ask him). His father designed both the Bad Boy Records logo and Andre Harrell’s logo among others, which infused fashion into Ferg at a young age. His start-up clothing line Devoni Clothing had artists like Chris Brown and Swizz Beatz rocking his belts long before Ferg even touched a microphone. His ascension as part of A$AP Mob was swift—some may argue that it derived from a tight grip on Rocky’s coattails, though now Ferg has carved his own niche in the game.
A$AP Ferg is like a levelheaded Kanye West. He has huge dreams, and gets animated as he discusses his AGOLDE denim capsule collection with Citizens For All Humanity, designed after the jeans from his “Work” video. He wants to do more fashion and film, but hopes to reach a place where he can readily receive the capital to do it all (sound familiar?). He says the glitz and glamour of fame don’t faze him—and while he rocks his name on a diamond-encrusted ring that spans the length of four knuckles, he views it as a piece of art over a proof of purchase.
In early April at The Canopy Club, New York emcee A$AP Twelvyy opened for Flatbush ZOMBiES on the 3001: A Laced Odyssey Tour. After dropping his new single “Last Year Being Broke” this past New Year’s Eve, Twelvyy is positioning himself for a big year – his new mixtape, 2127301090, is set to drop shortly, and he recently laid down a guest verse on A$AP Ferg‘s new album, Always Strive and Prosper.
After his set at Canopy, Twelvyy spoke with UPC about his new project, his first album purchase, the current state of the sneaker game and much more. Check out the conversation below.
On paper, the Harlem-bred rapper is cocky and brash, seemingly taking pages out of a long-standing rap playbook: He gives himself nicknames like Trap Lord and Hood Pope, and on 2013’s “Shabba,” his biggest single to date, he raps about how “dirty van bitches wanna suck my dick.” He regularly wears mink jackets and a gold grill in his mouth. He makes music videos that fashion him into one of Jesus’s disciples.
But, as he’ll tell you, the real Ferg is far more complex.
Born Darold Ferguson Jr., the 27-year-old is an experimenter, an oddball, and an adaptable artist who figured he’d be a fashion designer—he designed T-shirts alongside his late boutique-owning father and even started his own line of belts. But he wound up a rapper. “I was designing, making money off that,” he says of the teenage years he spent painting silk-screened shirts by hand with a paintbrush and acrylic paints, following in his dad’s footsteps. “But I had another talent,” Ferg says. “Rapping.”
Always Strive and Prosper. It’s more than a feel-good album title for A$AP Ferg; it’s a way of life. “That’s the voyage that I’m going through right now. I’m always striving. You hit new levels [and] even when you hit that new level, there’s a new level from there.”
It’s early evening in a tiny dressing room at the Adidas Originals store on 136 Wooster Street. The 27-year-old rapper waxes poetic while kicking his feet — outfitted with his custom-designed Adidas sneakers — in a swivel chair. He’s been fighting off a cold and beads of sweat gather at his forehead. Outside, the din grows as fans pack into the store to hear the rapper’s forthcoming sophomore album, set to be released April 22.
Born Darold Ferguson Jr., in Harlem, A$AP Ferg grew to prominence alongside high school friend A$AP Rocky in 2009, but his creative trajectory didn’t begin with rap. Ferg’s late father, Darold Ferguson, was a prolific designer who created logos for Bad Boy Records, and had his own fashion line called Ferg Apparel. As a teen growing up in Hamilton Heights, Ferg attended the High School of Art and Design and peddled his own clothing and accessories. “It’s in the bloodline,” he tells the Voice. Following A$AP Rocky’s breakthrough, “Peso,” Ferg realized rap was a viable career option. “I started getting the calls from Warner Bros., Sony. Any rap label you could think about called my phone [to] try and get meetings with A$AP [Mob].”
While Rocky, the self-professed “Pretty Motherfucker,” is the collective’s rock star, Ferg is its darker, grimier figure. In 2013, he released his debut, Trap Lord, buoyed by the underground bangers “Work” and “Shabba.”
Backstage at the University of Illinois’ go-to concert venue, The Canopy Club, A$AP Twelvyy is rocking his usual Cozy Boys attire: black durag, black hoodie, sweats and “Bred” Jordan Is.
Though his outfit may suit his calm, cool and collected demeanor, Twelvyy’s live show is anything but tranquil. The 26-year-old Bronx/Harlem native performs with a certain, unquantifiable tenacity that earns him rap game John Starks status in the eyes of many.
We sat down with Twelvyy post-show to discuss the Knicks, college hoops and upcoming A$AP releases. Among the man also know as 212 Mel’s early influences were Em, Cam’ron and Snoop—now, he’s looking to pave his own legacy alongside his partners: Rocky, Ferg, Nast, Ant and the rest of the Mob.
For those who don’t know, what do you do? DJ for A$AP Rocky and Cozy Boys, manager and creative partner with Kilo Kish, Imnotatoy line and other things in the works…
What influenced you growing up? Discount malls in the hood, Comic/Cartoons, Music.
What made you want to start DJing? DJ Screw honestly. I liked that element of DJing more than scratching or the more technical stuff. To me it just sounded so sick, and I don’t drink or smoke or anything – haa. I’m originally from Atlanta and in high school I started to get into production via the program Reason, but never fully got into the mix, I was bouncing around in the streets too much. When I moved to NY for good, all my friends up here would just want me to play music at the get togethers or what not because I would always play (to them) obscure music from all over. Before Rocky started to pop off Yams and Rocky asked me to DJ for him. I had never really DJed REAL spots. It was a quick transition for all of us.
In a uniquely candid conversation with VICE Autobiographies, A$AP Ferg talks about his father and how their relationship catalyzed his growth as an artist. VICE follows Ferg to Harlem to watch him express himself on canvas and in the studio.