On Tuesday, April 21, veteran hip-hop journalist Elliott Wilson will host the latest edition of his live interview series CRWN as part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s star-studded Tribeca Talks® program, sponsored by Hennessy V.S., and his guest inside Spring Studios, the festival’s creative epicenter, will be none other than “Pretty Flacko” himself, A$AP Rocky.
Information on special V.I.P. passes will be available in the coming weeks. Those who have a Tribeca Film Festival Spring Pass will have automatic entry.
As part of the ongoing Red Bull Music Academy UK Tour, A$AP Rocky will discussing his upcoming album at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London on April 8th at 6pm. This public lecture will be live streamed simultaneously on redbullmusicacademy.com/uktour. You can submit your questions to the Harlem rap star on Twitter using #AskRocky.
A$AP Rocky is sitting across from me at a table inside L.A.’s Sound Factory Studios. He looks away from the table, away from a sparse dinner he occasionally picks at, away from me, and repeats, under his breath, the two words I’ve never heard him say, and didn’t think I ever would: “No comment.”
To be fair, it’s been a long day, and he’s barely on the other end of it. A studio all-nighter that ended at 8 a.m. A photo shoot. This interview. A corporate fashion meeting. But despite his schedule, the “no comment” is still a surprise, even though it’s in response to a question about his love life. And not even a great one. It’s one of several times during this conversation where Rocky rolls his eyes, leans his head back—his braids dangling over the back of a studio chair—and stares into the ceiling in response to a question. He’s just not feeling it tonight.
Rocky’s usually a talker. The 26-year-old Harlem native’s outspokenness has been well-documented in these pages and elsewhere more than a few times over the course of his young, white-hot career. His candor is part of his innate charisma: He’s never not had something to say. And typically, something that shows up on arrival as a classic Rocky quotable. So why’s he being tight-lipped now? Is it just the exhaustion from a packed schedule? Or a different kind of fatigue?
It’s hard not to consider the latter. In the two years since he released his chart-topping debut album Long Live A$AP, he’s also emerged as one of rap’s foremost fashion trendsetters, and landed in a relationship with model Chanel Iman. He modeled in a Ferragamo campaign, and took his first acting gig, in the indie darling Dope (a movie that—of course—ignited a fierce bidding war at Sundance for the distribution rights). Last October, Rocky’s first proper track in over a year, “Multiply,” was released to rave reviews. The song also made news because of Rocky’s jabs at fashion lines Been Trill and Hood By Air, two brands he’d provided crucial support to before. On New Year’s Eve, Rocky released the booming “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2.” Fans freaked out. Clubs banged it. Writers praised it. A common headline emerged: 2015 was poised to be the year Rocky was back.
Although it’s been a minute since the world has heard from A$AP Rocky, it’s understandable why. The 26-year-old rapper, model and now actor has been busy. From recording A.L.L.A., the follow-up to his 2013 debut Long.Live.ASAP, which features guests FKA twigs, Lykke Li and long-time producer Clams Casino, to making his acting debut alongside Zoe Kravitz and Forest Whitaker, Rocky has been adding to his already impressive resume the past couple of years. He’s also recovering from the unfortunate death of mentor and friend A$AP Yams, who passed away due to a drug overdose in January of this year. During his performance at the SXSW Milk Music Lounge, hosted by Samsung, he was in much better spirits, going through notable tracks “Goldie,” “Pesos” and “Wild for the Night,” as well as rapping along to songs from the rest of the A$AP Mob.
After his set, Rocky took the time to speak with HYPETRAK about where he’s been, what he’s been up to, his acting debut and what would be his ideal role, and what he listens to when doing psychedelics.
It’s 1 P.M. On sunday and A$AP Rocky is lying on a sun-bleached wood banquette on the roof of his Hollywood home. With braided hair, an easy smile, and a square jaw, the kid’s not nicknamed Pretty Flacko for nothing. And from the canines back, top and bottom, his teeth glitter with pavé diamonds as an extra treat for the human eye. “I know it’s some weird shit,” Rocky says, fish-hooking his mouth with a finger to show off his new dental work. “But it’ll be cooler in two weeks, when it’s finished.”
Rocky is two all-nighters into a music-making bender and says he’s not tired, but he’s moving as if underwater and speaking in subdued non sequiturs. “It’s still my day before yesterday,” he says. And then, of the three-bedroom house with a beautiful kitchen and a treadmill where furniture should be: “I’m gonna miss it here. This was a place to fuck chicks, and I’ve outgrown it.”
Good news: There’s a stylish new way of getting dressed that’s specifically tailored for guys on the move. And the look’s got just the right amount of Jetsons to it: techy fabrics, a clean pair of sneakers, and a throw-it-away attitude. Nobody wears it better than globe-trotting rapper and fashion killer A$AP Rocky.
Lollapalooza has just unveiled their complete 2015 lineup, which includes A$AP Rocky among many other notable acts. The festival goes down July 31st through August 2nd at Grant Park in Chicago. Cop tickets and check the full artist lineup here.
A$AP Rocky made his way down to New Orleans earlier this month to perform at the annual BUKU Music + Art Project. Joining him on his trip to the Big Easy were a couple other members of the A$AP Mob, including Ant, Illz, Nast, Twelvyy, and TyY.
Check out some photos of the Mobs performance, shot by myself (@Djordje), and be sure to follow the A$AP Life Tumblr for more day-to-day photos of the Mob.
It was 2009, and the two were far away from the men they were going to become: Rocky the genre-moving rapper who would challenge and remake the sound of New York hip-hop, and Yams the behind-the-scenes maestro who would shape the palate of hip-hop’s Internet generation, steering Rocky to a gold debut album in the process.
Back then they were would-bes, close friends at the beginning of a long journey. Yams was involved with a woman who organized concerts and had invited Rocky to perform at one. The two came downtown from Harlem only to find that there wasn’t time for Rocky to perform after all.
They got into it outside a downtown McDonald’s, Rocky indignant and Yams telling him: “You think you all that! You think you Kanye!”
As happens with close friends, the fight melted into nothing, and both ended up waiting for the train back uptown, Yams without his shirt, which had been lost in the fight. The next day Yams broke things off with the woman, telling Rocky he’d never let anyone get in the way of what they were trying to build.
“I’m high as fuck right now, I’m drunk as fuck right now, and I just don’t give a fuck right now.”
A$AP Rocky is onstage at Samsung’s tricked-out Milk Music Lounge, filled with Vegas-style flashing lights, free booze and excited fans, including Zoe Kravitz and Miley Cyrus.
“This is the happiest I’ve ever been my life,” he says.
But it doesn’t seem like it’s the presumably high-paying corporate gig that’s got Rocky smiling: He’s surrounded by the A$AP Mob, his crew, his “motherfuckers that I came with.” A$AP Ferg, Twelvyy, Illz, Ant, Nast, female newcomer Chynna — all were bouncing around Rocky as he ran through “Goldie,” “Problems,” and his other hits as smoke jets blasted, confetti fell and the crowd heeded their repeated instructions to turn up.