At our Under 30 summit in Philadelphia this fall, Rakim “A$AP Rocky” Mayers was among the last to arrive at our group cover shoot.
“Sorry,” he said with a grin, decked out in a full-length Dior coat. “I’m fashionably late.”
Indeed, nobody in the hip-hop world has been more fashionable of late. The Harlem-born mixtape maven grew up shuttling between homeless shelters, swaggering into mainstream consciousness with debut album Long.Live.A$AP, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 2013, helping him earn an estimated $5 million that year.
But it’s his fashion sense–modeling for DKNY and creating a capsule collection for Guess–that makes him ascendant. Rocky is focused on his creative collective, AWGE, which does everything from designing album artwork to managing stylists.
“To be able to curate and manage my own business,” he says, “I always wanted to do it.”
He’s sitting in a green room, waiting for his turn to film scenes for Pusha-T’s “MPA” video. Fellow Mob member A$AP Nast and longtime mentor Chase Infinite sit on a couch while Rocky relaxes in a vintage barber chair.
Before we begin our interview, he looks up at a rack of clothes and has an idea. He wants to throw on a “cozy” green Stussy robe. When he sits back down, he looks even more relaxed, laughing as jokes and smoke fill the room.
But Rocky’s happiness doesn’t just come from this; the state of hip-hop’s also got him smiling.
Of the whole A$AP Mob, the Harlem-based hip-hop and fashion collective, A$AP Ferg is known as the most personable one. Funny and gracious in interviews, Ferg is someone you want to root for. Since the death of his good friend A$AP Yams last year, the 27-year-old rapper has spent much of the past few months working on projects that illustrate his wide-ranging interests outside of hip-hop. — from painting, to designing shoes, to creating rugs. Yes, rugs. This past Monday, Ferg unveiled his new Traplord rug at an event thrown by Fancy. He also released a new song, “Tatted Angel,” earlier this week, which discusses his feelings about the death of his good friend Yams.
Before his performance on Monday night, Ferg sat down with Maxim to discuss his new album (coming out in 2016), maturing as an artist, and painting with Swizz Beatz.
Tyler Grosso is that little emo kid in the corner at the party who gets more girls than pretty much everyone without even trying. He’s also a member of the infamous A$AP Mob and the founder of his own brand, Superrradical. He’s also probably one of the last people you would ever expected to do a podcast but I put in a few calls and made it happen. I got Tyler to tell me his entire story including some never before heard details about bootlegging Odd Future merch, being homeless, getting temporarily kicked out of A$AP and why he hates Travis Scott. All in all a great interview even though the video cut out towards the end.
00:30 Growing up
04:00 Making fake Odd Future merch
13:40 Meeting Yams
22:00 Sleeping on the floor
25:00 Asking people to wear your shirts
26:50 RIP Yams
34:00 Super Radical
39:00 Moving to California
57:00 Ass Pizza checks in
59:30 The Players Club
1:02:00 Getting kicked out of A$AP temporarily
1:05:00 Raider Klan beef
1:07:30 Why he hates Travis Scott
In 2013 A$AP Rocky was given a sneaker collaboration with adidas on a pair of all-black Jeremy Scott Wings sneakers, and it was only a matter of time before his right-hand man, A$AP Ferg, got his chance to work with the brand, too.
It’s two years later and a lot has changed for the A$AP Mob since those days. They’ve lost their mentor, A$AP Yams, and it’s directly affecting Ferg’s project with adidas, as he’s chosen to dedicate the sneaker he designed to the late Yams.
The collection comes in the form of two “Hood Pope” colorways of the adi-Ease skateboarding shoe, along with a T-shirt featuring a painting of Yams that Ferg did himself.
With Art Basel taking place in Miami right now, adidas and Ferg have gone down to Florida to open an art gallery, titled “Always Strive and Prosper,” for the collection, which opens today at 9 p.m. at 337 SW 8th St.
The sneakers also released today, too, and can be purchased here for $70. To further understand how this sneaker collaboration came about and how much Yams influenced it, we spoke to Ferg himself.
Even in a year of significant upheaval and chaos, there’s a lot to appreciate. This Thanksgiving, we continued our annual tradition of asking members of the FADER family what they appreciated most this year. A$AP Ferg gave love to one of his biggest idols, Alessia Cara took time to evaluate her recent success, and Kranium kept it simple and sweet. Here’s to more success. *clinks glasses*
I’m thankful for Jay Z, because he showed us we could be entrepreneurs—more than just young artists. He told us to own our artistry and push the culture forward.
A$AP Rocky joins Semtex at Maida Vale to talk about making his newest album and the different direction he’s taken to his first release. “With the first one it was just really all about singles,” says Rocky. “I’m a mainstream household figure at this point,” he explains as his reason for the change in direction.
He also explains how he’s designing his own live shows and discusses which Grime artists could crack the American market…
It’s been a year of extremes for A$AP Rocky, or Pretty Flacko, the name he tells me he prefers when we are introduced. The Sundance premiere of Dope, in which the Harlem rapper made his acting debut, came just six days after the tragic loss of his friend and A$AP worldwide co-creator, A$AP Yams.
Yams’s (born Steven Rodriguez) print is all over Rocky’s latest album At.Long.Last.A$AP or A.L.L.A. He co-executive produced the album, and Rocky pays full tribute to his co-conspirator on the album cover by rocking Yams’s distinctive purple birthmark.
A.L.L.A is an impressive record. A considered chronicle of an artist transitioning from a young man filled with ambition, bravado and game to one who has truly lived and wishes to speak honestly. It also sees Rocky flex a more dexterous flow with a confidence that has him go toe-to-toe with Yeezy, Weezy, Juicy J, Future, Schoolboy Q, and, of course, Rod Stewart.
On the phone Rocky is warm, gracious and playful, constantly acknowledging and praising others. He explains that he wants to make the rawest music possible for his rawest fans and that he’s excited for next year’s Australia tour, presented by Noisey.