S6 E18 | A$AP Rocky
Known for his contributions to bridging the gap between music and fashion and having an undeniable impact on hip hop, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky is no stranger to the culture. He emerged in the industry by way of A$AP Mob, which includes A$AP Ferg, A$AP Ant and the late A$AP Yams, to name a few. In 2011, Rocky released his debut mixtape LIVE.LOVE.A$AP, which helmed standout tracks such as “Peso,” “Brand New Guy” featuring ScHoolboy Q and “Bass,” and subsequently landed the rapper his major label deal with RCA Records and Polo Grounds Music. The project, re-released last year in celebration of its 10th anniversary, placed Rocky at the forefront of hip hop during the early 2010s, with platforms such as SoundCloud and YouTube furthering his presence.
Fast forward to 2013, A$AP Rocky releases his major label album LONG.LIVE.A$AP, which is widely acclaimed as one of the best projects of its time. Among several notable tracks, “Goldie,” “Fashion Killa” and “1Train” (featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$ and several others) helped cement the album and position Rocky for the mainstream. Furthermore, “Fuckin’ Problems” featuring Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar landed him his first RIAA-certified platinum single as the lead artist, going six-times platinum as of 2020. His sophomore album AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP continued the rapper’s hype train with star-studded appearances from Future, Lil Wayne, UGK, M.I.A, Kanye West and more. Tracks like “Everyday,” “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2),” and “L$D” are among some of the project’s most well-known records, with each song amassing millions of global streams and receiving their respective platinum certifications.
Over the course of the next several years, Rocky shifted away from his solo catalog to work on a handful of projects with A$AP Mob. In 2016, the collective released Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1: Friends with songs like “Yamborghini High” paying homage to the late A$AP Yams and “Telephone Calls,” which reunited Rocky and Tyler, the Creator as well as Playboi Carti. The Mob went on to release Cozy Tapes Vol. 2: Too Cozy in 2017 featuring their smash hit “RAF,” which boasts appearances from Frank Ocean, Quavo, Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert. The following year, A$AP Rocky released TESTING, his third and most recent studio album, which sees the musician exploring an array of new sounds. It debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 charts with Rocky comparing it to Kanye West’s Yeezus.
Earlier this year, A$AP Rocky and Rihanna broke the internet with their pregnancy reveal, unveiling Rih’s baby bump through photos snapped in Harlem. Meanwhile, Rocky is currently preparing to release his fourth studio album, slated to drop later this year. He recently unloaded the single and accompanying video for “D.M.B,” otherwise styled as “DAT$ MAH B!*$H,” which serves as his first solo material in over two years. Prior to that, Rocky made appearances in collaborations with the likes of Fivio Foreign, $NOT, Nigo, and A$AP Ant to name a few.
Following his “Drink Champs” appearance, REVOLT compiled a list of nine facts we learned from A$AP Rocky’s interview. Check them out below.
1. On being curved by Fabolous after asking for a photo
At the beginning of the interview, A$AP Rocky recalls running into Fabolous as a preadolescent and not being able to get a picture. “I’m like 12 or something. I’m like, ‘Yo my heart pounding, I could get a picture or autograph?’” he shares. “He said no to the picture and then I asked for the autograph but I could tell, like, he was looking around and all that type of shit. I guess he was trying to be on 10, he was trying to be on point. As a kid, it ain’t really register to me. I was a little hurt. So, I went home and ripped down all his [posters] and shit.”
Pivoting from the conversation, N.O.R.E. brings up Future, who said that he attempted to get a photo with Scottie Pippen when he was younger but was told no, thus he reportedly messed around with the baller’s then-wife Larsa Pippen. Later in the interview, A$AP Rocky admits that Fabolous is still among one of his favorite artists, citing him as an early influence on his career.
2. On getting arrested for assault in Sweden
In 2019, Rocky was slated to perform at Smash Festival in Sweden. However, a fight broke out prior, which led to the rapper and two members of his entourage being arrested a few days later. A$AP Rocky was detained for two weeks, which led other UK festivals (such as Longitude Festival and Wireless Festival) to replace him on their lineups. Although he was arrested in July, the rapper wasn’t formally charged until later that month. He was only able to go home in August and was later found guilty.
“It was a bunch of factors. Number one: we was in a foreign country. They got their own rules over there. They got their own way of doing things and shit. A lot of the shit was prejudice, racism, classism, all that shit. That’s definitely a factor,” Rocky explains. He later talks about how Former President Donald Trump’s tweets toward Sweden’s prime minister did more harm than good. “Low-key, that’s when they started tryna, like, apply pressure to us. The authorities was on some sucker shit. They didn’t even let us see the embassy or nothing like that for two weeks, and we didn’t get no visits. Solitary confinement … no regular jail cell.”
Furthermore, N.O.R.E. and A$AP Rocky big up Trump, with the latter stating, “That was gangster.” They continue by stating that Joe Biden wouldn’t have done the same despite having a majority Black vote. “I don’t think Joe probably know who I am. Since he got elected, I ain’t really been seeing Joe like that … I know, you’d think he got all those minority votes due to Kamala [Harris].”
3. On AWGE and “ghost designing” for fashion labels
Widely recognized as a fashion icon in music, A$AP Rocky’s influence on hip hop culture rarely goes unnoticed. Whether it be working with some of today’s most prominent brands or alluding to them in songs like “RAF,” Rocky has cemented his credibility in fashion and streetwear.
“We do ghost designing for some of your favorite fashion houses. So, say if I’m the head designer at Chanel or something, I can commission you to design something for me if I fuck with your ideas. We’ve been doing that for eight, nine years now,” he shares. “I got my own brand, it’s AWGE … we did a Mercedes-Benz collab, all types of shit. You see the Gucci collab coming out.”
He adds, “We the reason, when it come to fashion, a lot of the names that’s predominant now, we the reason they lit right now so to speak.” Recently, AWGE collaborated with Mercedes-Benz for a 90s-inspired collection that dropped exclusively on PacSun, where Rocky serves as guest artistic director.
4. On claims of Travis Scott stealing his style
For years, fans have long speculated about tension between A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott, specifically in terms of the similarities between their fashion styles and music. While both musicians have been quick to sweep any tension under the rug, fellow A$AP Mob member A$AP Nast did call out Scott for reportedly stealing the group’s style in 2016. Rocky has since been spotted around the rapper, tweeting that their “beef” is played out. Scott even called for Rocky’s release from prison following the assault charges he faced in Sweden.
“You can’t feed into petty shit like that. At this point, that shit trash at this point … I saw similarities for sure, I saw that he was inspired and shit like that. But that’s what we’re in it for, that’s good sportsmanship,” Rocky tells N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN. “I put it to you like this, if niggas wasn’t biting off — you know imitation is the best form of flattery. If people wasn’t trying to imitate you, you’re doing something wrong.”
5. On A$AP Mob and Raider Klan’s feud and fight in Miami
A$AP Rocky’s relationship with rapper and producer SpaceGhostPurpp (SGP) has been well-documented over the years, with the latter producing a number of Rocky’s songs, including 2011’s “Keep It G,” 2012’s “Pretty Flacko” and others. However, the two severed ties after SGP accused fellow A$AP Mob member A$AP Twelvyy of jumping his cousin. Shortly after, things escalated as the crews broke out into a fight in Miami during the “LONGLIVEA$AP Tour.” When asked about the altercation, Rocky replied, “We was wilding back then. We ain’t really have a lot to lose.”
“Basically, it was a bunch of niggas [in Miami] that came after the show that we had smoke with or whatever the case was. Me and [SpaceGhostPurrp’s] smoke stems from way back when or whatever. We out here, they saying that they was outside looking for niggas so everybody just got into it. We heard that they was back there so niggas wanted to see what the smoke was about,” he elaborates. “A lot of people went to jail, we had to pay a lot of fees. They locked up security … niggas don’t squabble no more so everybody had to subsequently pay for that. That type of shit don’t pay, man. That kind of shit cost too much. That shit is stupid.”
6. On remembering A$AP Yams
In 2015, A$AP Mob founder and fellow Harlem native A$AP Yams tragically passed away at the age of 26 due to an accidental overdose. His impact on not only A$AP Mob, but hip hop culture in Harlem, is continued through the likes of Rocky, Ferg, Nast, and several other members of the crew. Furthermore, Yams is mentioned across much of the A$AP Mob catalog, with his iconic birthmark appearing on Rocky’s AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP album cover art. “I miss Yams like crazy,” Rocky states.
“Niggas in A$AP used to treat Yams like he was Yoda or some shit. They used to praise him but you never see him. You hear about him, he got tattoos, he got this and that. I’m rapping for him over the phone, this is before Instagram and all this other shit. So I’m talking to him all the time, he’s telling me the codes, telling me how to keep everybody straight,” A$AP Rocky recalls. “Yams was different. If you went to his crib, he had VIBE, The Source, XXL magazines. He just had magazines stacked and he really wanted to be a ghetto journalist. That was his thing, he was going to be a journalist.”
Since his passing, A$AP Mob has hosted an annual Yams Day, with previous anniversaries featuring performances and events to honor the late co-founder. “We got Yams Day, it’s been going on. With the whole COVID thing, we kind of just treat it as more of a memorial for celebration as opposed to doing events and festivities, but who knows if next year we’ll do something normal. That shit was up. Yams Day, that shit was looking like HOT 97.”
7. On doing concerts after the Astroworld tragedy
Towards the latter half of the interview, N.O.R.E. asks Rocky about touring following the tragic incident that took place at Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in 2021. As noted, several venues have since taken the precautions like limiting how many people can stand in front of a stage and leaving enough space in the crowd for ambulances to come through if necessary. A$AP Rocky shares that, while he does take the precautions very seriously, it doesn’t prevent him and his fans from having a good time.
“Ever since that horrific night, shows, they’ve been real adamant about how you … I was just out in Brazil and they just stopped the show, like, ‘Yo, some people is getting a little rowdy in the front and getting trampled.’ They just stopped the show and I was like, ‘Alright cool,’” he recalls. “I think everybody is taking precautions now more so than ever. I don’t think that even Live Nation or any kind of events you’ve seen travesty or lawsuits before, so I think this is new for everybody. I think a lot of people are trying to take it easy but we still going crazy at my shits.”
“That’s part of our culture. We rap but we got a punk mentality to this shit. Really and truly, that’s where that don’t give a fuck shit really come from. Wearing the same shit you had on for like four days in a row type shit. It might be some shit, but niggas had it on for a while. That’s punk,” he says. “You go to a show, you get out anger, you get out energy. You get socked in the face, you take it on the chin.”
8. On originally not liking his hit song “Fuckin’ Problems”
Among one of his largest records to date, “Fuckin’ Problems” skyrocketed Rocky’s career upon its release. The song, which features Drake, 2 Chainz and Kendrick Lamar, peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and later went six-times platinum as of 2020. However, as A$AP Rocky shares, he originally didn’t like the song because it was too political in regards to how to make a hit song at the time.
“You look like you’re trying to play the scope of the game. At the end of the day, you come in and you kind of want to do your own thing. It’s a formula, every few years it changes. Now, the formula is do a TikTok or do this and that. At the time, it was get on a song with Drake. Get with 2 Chainz — that’s going to make a hit. Make this kind of song with this BPM.” He expands, “Sometimes a person like me, I was afraid of looking like I was trying but I don’t give a fuck.”
9. On having a baby with Rihanna and relationship advice
Earlier this year, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky announced that they were expecting their first child. Rihanna debuted her baby bump via Instagram with photos of her wearing a pink coat in Harlem where Rocky grew up. In regards to fatherhood, he says, “I’m proud, man.” The musician later gives a bit of relationship advice, stating, “Fuck what the outside world got going on, fuck what the outside world thinks. It’s really about an understanding between two components: you and your significant other. That’s it.”