Earlier this month, just days before A$AP Rocky released his Sony/RCA/Polo Grounds Music debut album, Long.Live.A$AP, his crew cohort, A$AP Ferg, inked a deal with the same label. With a buzz built without any mixtape, but only from features—like on Rocky’s “Kissin’ Pink” and “Ghetto Symphony,” and scattered solo cuts, notably “Work” and “A Hundred Million Roses”—Ferg has quickly become one of the more exciting young rappers around. Now, the Harlem native is inching towards the release of his debut project, Trap Lord, slated to drop in about a month. Here, he talks to XXL about his new deal, the upcoming mixtape, the meaning of “Trap Lord” and what makes him a beast.
In 2005 three friends in Harlem came together and formed a crew now recognized to the world as A$AP Mob. The internationally-known outfit consists of a cast of celebrated characters and is known for its influence on the way not only hip hop, but music and culture at large, look and sound today. A$AP ILLZ, one of the three founding members and guru of the culture conglomerate, is working on his own jewelry collection and currently the face of Stussy’s newest international ad campaign. We caught up with him in SoHo and asked our same questions.
In the back of a black van rolling down Houston Street, the 24-year-old Harlem rapper answers questions about his childhood, worldview, and art through tired, sagging eyes. He gives his head a violent shake to prevent himself from dozing off mid-sentence. After a moment, he pauses, re-focuses, and speaks: “Lemme ask you somethin’.”
None of us knew it at the time, but when the Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky swung through the eMusic offices last spring, accompanied by a good portion of his entourage, his major-label debut Long.Live.A$AP was nowhere near seeing the light of day. That day, it was slated for a July 4 release, and “Goldie,” Rocky’s glossy gold-plated lead single produced by Hit Boy (“Niggas in Paris”, “Clique”), had just hit radio. He was riding high on the buzz from his free mixtape LiveLoveA$AP, which had delivered on the promise of his tantalizing earliest songs. Those songs, accompanied by compelling, stylish low-budget clips, suggested a marketable phenomenon, but even then he was on his way to proving he was also a budding star.
This is what you know about A$AP Rocky: His real name is Rakim Mayers. He’s 24-years old. He was born in Harlem, but musically, he might seem to be from Houston. He’s an attitude-driven New York rapper with a steady diet of thick, Southern-fried beats and smoky verses about purple swag. He’s seen his father sent to jail for dealing and his brother murdered. He’s rocketed from street posse mixtape success to a $3 million major label deal in 2011. His interests, outside of music, include high-end designer apparel, wandering the streets of SoHo, weed, video games, and bad bitches. (And “artsy girls.”) He is, in his own words, “mad laid-back.”
“It took nine years for people to start calling Jay-Z the “King of New York.” It took A$AP Rocky nine words.” Read more of Rolling Stone’s Q&A session with Rocky on sudden fame, his upcoming tour with Rihanna and more here. Preorder your copy of LONG.LIVE.A$AP today.
In 2012, A$AP Rocky (real name Rakim Mayers) took the music and fashion world by storm with his hybrid hip-hop sound and unique sense of fashion style. The 24-year-old Harlem native is ready to kick off 2013 on a high note with his debut album, ‘Long.Live.A$AP,’ due in stores Jan. 15.
A year ago, Rocky was virtually unknown until he dropped his hard-hitting mixtape ‘Live.Love.A$AP,’ which was celebrated by music bloggers and tastemakers alike. Record labels started calling, and Rocky inked with Polo Grounds Music, under the RCA-Sony banner.