Music and fashion icon A$AP Rocky is killing the game on his own terms. With a #1 album under his belt and two more on the way, the 25 year-old rapper is fast cementing his position as one of the musical voices of his generation. We hang out with Rocky stateside to kickoff the youth revolution...
“You already know,” is a constant refrain of the A$AP Mob, the multimedia collective that launched A$AP Rocky. It’s part verbal tic, part truth. Because there’s a lot that you already know about A$AP Rocky, né Rakim Mayers, aka Lord Flacko. You know the look: full gold grill, French braids, conceptual designer duds. You know the music: wavy, eclectic, Southern-inflected rap that began with cult 2011 mixtape Live.Love.A$AP and peaked – so far - with last year’s Billboard #1 album Long.Live.A$AP. You know the bio: ambitious kid overcomes a Harlem childhood spent slinging yeyo and rolling dice on the corner to become a pop-culture phenomenon living up to his crew’s acronym: Always Strive and Prosper. So what don’t you know?
1. Despite being young, celebrated, and flush with “PMW” (pussy, money, weed, his staples), A$AP is feeling blue…
“My music, like my passion for fashion, is really dark at times. I’m capable of making a happy song here and there, not quite Pharrell’s Happy, but I prefer dark fashion and dark music. I was born in the dark, I create in the dark, I work in the dark, I make love in the dark. It means life.”
2. In Rocky’s world, music and art are gateways to anarchic freedom.
“I live in my own society. I just try to be careful that I don’t break laws that man created. But I abide by my own laws, fuck it. I want kids to lose themselves and forget about society’s rules and shit. Growing up, my biggest idols were drug dealers, rappers, and basketball players. I want kids to be more creative so this world can be better.”
3. Although A$AP grew up on Cam’ron’s block in Harlem, he feels more international these days.
“Two years ago, when I had my record deal, I went back to Harlem. All the hood motherfuckers said, ‘Do us a favour, and don’t come back.’ All the memories are gone. I reside in Soho and LA right now, and my mind is universal. My inspiration isn’t only from Harlem.”
4. He’s moved on from the purple drank (cough syrup) immortalised in songs like Purple Swag to the mind-opening world of hallucinogenics.
“My inspiration now is from psychedelics and shit. LSD, I love it. It almost makes you feel like you’re the best creator next to God.”
5. He’s got no plans to pull a Kanye and start his own line.
“I wouldn’t design, I would collab. I’m not a fashion designer. I have too much respect for it. Imagine if Rick Owens or Alexander Wang said, ‘I’m gonna be the next rapper.’ Fucking up the game and shit.”
6. For a rapper whose lyrics unapologetically celebrate luxury goods (“red bottom loafers”, “Cristal go by the cases”, “Margiela no laces”), A$AP Rocky is a bit of a hippy.
“I’m always in love. I’m in love with the earth. To be in love with the earth is to appreciate life, to appreciate natural shit, like: marijuana, shrooms, women, fruits, vegetables.”
7. He’s a feminist.
“We need more Madonnas and Rihannas, girls who dominate more than men.”
8. One of his favourite films is Larry Clark’s 1995 Kids.
“It reminded me of growing up in Harlem, going downtown to chill with that mixed crowd. It was just one melting pot of people chillin’. I miss those days. We’re too old to just be chillin’ in the street drinking 40 ounces and shit, watching friends skateboard and crashing parties.”
9. This is his end game:
“I look forward to a stadium full of people high off of energy, whatever their preference of drug is, and my music. A stadium full of people just losing themselves to the moment. When I get that, that’s when I’ll be satisfied.”
10. His motto for self-invention is:
“Life is what you make it. When life throws you lemons, make Sprite.”