Four years is a long time in the Internet age. Just think: Four years ago you probably didn’t know what Uber was, had never used SnapChat, and you probably had never heard of a rapper named A$AP Rocky and his Harlem based crew, the A$AP Mob. In 2011, A$AP Rocky launched the A$AP movement after releasing an instant classic video called “Purple Swag.”
The video blew us away. Just when it was starting to feel like New York couldn’t produce new rap stars, a shirtless Rocky came strutting down the block on that bike sporting Jeremy Scott adidas with the charisma of 50 Cent, the sound of Houston, and a “alternative but traditional” aesthetic masterminded by the late, great A$AP Yams. Four years later and Rocky is a full blown star who recently got his third Complex cover and has his highly anticipated sophomore album slated for later this year. That’s why this song was ripe for a Magnum Opus treatment.
None of what Rocky—and the rest of the Mob—has accomplished these past few years would have been possible if it wasn’t for “Purple Swag.” So we got with the main members of the Mob including Rocky, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast, and A$AP Bari to talk about how the Mob came together and how Rocky crafted the song. Of course, we all also took time out to talk about the genius of A$AP Yams, who tragically passed away earlier this year, and how he helped the song blow up. As great as the song is, it certainly wouldn’t have had the same impact without it’s corresponding video. So we also spoke with director Jason Ano as well as everybody’s favorite white girl with gold grills, Anna Trill. And finally, with all the debate that the song sparked about whether or not New York rappers should be using a Southern sound, we just had to speak with the Trill OG himself, Bun B about why he’s cool with Rocky’s H-Town influence.
In 2011, Harlem’s A$AP Rocky emerged at the forefront of a resurgent New York rap underground. Connecting the dots between a wide spectrum of ‘90s rap and the fashion-savvy hip hop vanguard, Rocky quickly ascended to global stardom. Together with his A$AP Mob team, the young wordsmith gave a new face to Harlem hip hop – and a whole generation a new style to “Get Lit” to.
Since the release of his major label debut, Long.Live.A$AP, Rakim Mayers has kept a close lid on his artistic development – until now. In this public lecture at London’s majestic St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, as part of the RBMA UK Tour, the rapper gave a rare insight into his state of mind. Sitting down with journalist Hattie Collins on the Red Bull Studios London couch where he wrote much of his new album, Lord Flacko seemed delighted to hold court.
In the extensive interview, Rocky opened up about his relationship with London, his reverence for artists ranging from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to The Castaways, meeting his recently deceased friend and Mob-partner A$AP Yams, and what can be expected of his upcoming record, At.Long.Last.A$AP.
Watch the lecture video above, which also includes a special appearance by Yasiin Bey and the first play of album cut “M’$”, and find out more about A$AP Rocky’s upcoming public lecture in Harlem for Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York here: http://nyc.redbullmusicacademy.com/conversation-with-asap-rocky
During his RBMA UK lecture yesterday in London, Flacko decided to exclusively premiere the new song “M’$” for viewers who tuned into the stream. Today, we get the official CDQ of the Honorable C.N.O.T.E and Mike Dean-produced track. Stream below.
Complex released some b-roll footage of their recent interview with A$AP Rocky, which features him talking about how hypocritical American drug laws are, how women face double standards when it comes to sex, and how much fan support meant to him when his friend A$AP Yams passed away. Check it out above.
On Tuesday, April 21, veteran hip-hop journalist Elliott Wilson will host the latest edition of his live interview series CRWN as part of the Tribeca Film Festival’s star-studded Tribeca Talks® program, sponsored by Hennessy V.S., and his guest inside Spring Studios, the festival’s creative epicenter, will be none other than “Pretty Flacko” himself, A$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.”