Our interview series Icebreaker features artists talking about things—some strange, some amusing, some meaningful—that just might reveal their true selves. This edition features Harlem MC A$AP Ferg, whose new album Always Strive and Prosper is out now.
Who is a fictional character that you relate to?
Probably Jesus. He was trying to do good by his people most of the time, just trying to feed his disciples—his friends, his homies. They drank wine together. They broke bread together. I’m the same way.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Oh, definitely. I believe that this universe is so big—we can’t be the only enzymes walking around. There are one-cell creatures that we can’t see. There got to be ghosts.
If you could be in any band ever, which one would you choose?
Daft Punk. I’d be the third dude with my own helmet. Maybe I’d transform into a different Ferg—maybe Ferg would just disappear and I’d become somebody else.
A$AP Ferg is making a habit of reaching new levels.
Following the April release of his star-studded sophomore album, Always Strive and Prosper, the Harlem wordsmith has taken the show on the road for his “Level Up Tour” with Tory Lanez. During the 26-date run, the duo will make a stop at the BET Experience at L.A. Live, an annual showcase that’s also slated to feature 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Fetty Wap, and more.
In the midst of all of this, the Trap Lord is also working on more videos from A.S.A.P, as well as new material with his A$AP Mob brothers. Plus, the crew is hard at work on the A$AP Yams-inspired Cozy Tapes.
While Ferg continues to “Strive” for greatness, Rap-Up spoke with the A$AP Mob spitter about it all.
As the tour DJs for reigning rap crew A$AP Mob, the time J.Scott (aka A$AP Snacks) and A$AP Lou, otherwise known as the duo Cozy Boys, spend off-road comes few and far between.
Originally founded by the late Mob patron A$AP Yams, the group’s rising notoriety has expanded into a burgeoning career outside of their Mob brethren, taking the “turn up” to some of the hottest clubs and festivals all over the globe such as Boiler Room, Coachella and Afropunk, to name a few.
We caught up with Cozy Boys in Los Angeles to find out how the two first became affiliated with A$AP Mob, what touring with A$AP Rocky is like and how they pledge to continue the spirit of “cozy” in Yams’ honor.
You may know of Marty Baller as ASAP Ferg’s right hand man when they’re rocking mics around the world or even noticed him the face of Trap Lord. Now, with the release of his first single taken from his upcoming MARTYGRAW project, the Harlem rapper is beginning to establish his name in the industry as a true artist. Marty is also the first artist off A$AP Ferg’s imprint, Trillagain Island Records and as he explains, we can expect a lot of upbeat records that’ll get any party started. “What inspired the title MARTYGRAW was New Orleans. I love to start a party, I’m the party king, so at my shows I want to create that feeling. You know, a lot of people just enjoying themselves. The break down is this, MARTY-G-RAW because I’m so raw when I spit.” Read the full interview below along with Marty Baller’s “Flex” single taken from his upcoming MARTYGRAW project due out in August.
A$AP Ferg Stopped By DJ Whoo Kid’s “The Whoolywood Shuffle” to promote his recent album “Always Strive And Prosper”. He speaks on why he never gets high including a bad trip he experienced, recording “Hungry Ham” at Skrillex’s house and Katy Perry walking in, and the madness of touring the EDM circuit.
When A$AP Rocky released his Live. Love. A$AP mixtape, all the rules went out the window. Rocky belonged to A$AP Mob, a group of friends from Harlem who had built a fierce fan-base through a handful of free releases. Along with Drake’s OVO crew and the since-disbanded Odd Future, the Mob defined a new era of rap where groups of talented friends could boost each other to success. Two album cycles later, they’ve moved on to disrupting fashion.
“I make my own trends, my own style, my own lifestyle,” explains A$AP Bari, the Mob’s resident style expert. Along with Rocky, he helms the concept brand VLONE. “Nobody’s gonna hear you if you’re not out there yelling in their face,” he adds. With his husky whisper, it’s hard to imagine him yelling in anyone’s face. What the 24-year-old is getting at, though, is that it pays to be bold. VLONE lacks fashion industry traditions like seasons, set release dates, or an online store; that hasn’t deterred the brand’s devoted fans, though. On the opening day of VLONE’s Los Angeles pop-up in the arts district, a line stretched around the block hours before the doors would even open. Some die-hard fans had been camping out since the night before, when Bari and Rocky had presented their new “Freestyle” collection. It was modeled by skateboarders sliding and grinding along a two-story ramp.
The next morning, Bari skates around the warehouse space, modeling a look that Rocky will wear two days later when he takes the stage at Coachella: a pair of sweatpants emblazoned with flames and a sweatshirt stamped with the Donnie Darko quote, “Every living creature on Earth dies alone.” Like the rest of the collection, Bari dreamed up the outfit in only 24 hours. He credits this brisk creative pace to “magic, baby.” Like the spray-painted walls around us, the fit is inspired by Bari’s new home, California, and the scenes it reminds him of: “punk, metal, hip-hop and skate culture.”
In the summer of 2011 Harlem’s A$AP Mob became the center of the pop culture universe: the Givenchy wearing, jiggy eye of the storm around them. Of the twelve or so members, it was pretty boy A$AP Rocky who rapidly landed major label deals, magazine covers, and fashion co-signs, while his comrade A$AP Ferg emerged as the masterly “rappers rapper.” For Ferg — Darold Ferguson Jr. to his loved ones — celebrity wasn’t quite the perfect fit that it looked like for Rocky. Ferguson became depressed and built an armor of bravado that was the “Trap Lord” persona we witnessed muggin’ through hits like his debut “Work” and 2013’s monster, “Shabba.”
Ferg was making great music, but it was separate from his true self — it wasn’t an honest extension of his being. After a life-changing encounter with a fan who survived cancer, Ferg carved out a new artistic path that would see his second album re-introduce the rawest A$AP Ferg to his fans.
The new Ferg arrives in Always Strive and Prosper-aka ASAP. It’s an album that deals with the uncomfortable realities of celebrity whilst telling intimate tales of his childhood and youth starring family, friends, and lovers. The album boasts verses from Missy Elliot, Rick Ross, Future and Chuck D that sit perfectly next to cameos from his mother, grandma and the mother of fallen friend, A$AP Mob founder, A$AP Yams.
A$AP Ferg dropped by The Breakfast Club to discuss his sophomore album Always Strive and Prosper. This time around he is more personal than before. His background is in art and fashion and he was used to playing behind the scenes, he was forced to the forefront once his music career took off and he had to get used to it. Now he realizes that you have to open up all of yourself to the fans.
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.