dope star A$AP Rocky talks rich anarchy, puff daddy's influence and the n-word
The rapper turns his mouth full of gold to acting as Dom in Dope. i-D met him in Cannes to get the lowdown on
A$AP Rocky has decided that there is only so much satisfaction that comes from being a best selling rap artist, and like many hip hop stars before him, he's decided its time to turn his hand to acting. Rocky is a natural making his acting debut in the 90s hip hop-referencing Dope, playing Dom, a drug dealer selling Molly in a fictional quarter of Inglewood called "Bottoms". To avoid arrest, Dom gives the film's nerdy protagonist Malcolm a backpack filled with the titular dope, but when he wants it returned he's a man on a mission. i-D caught up with the rapper at Cannes and found out about how he feel into the role, how much love he's got for P Diddy and how he doesn't give a fuck about skin colour.
What made you want to do this role?
When I was helping someone read the lines [his ex-girlfriend Chanel Imam]. I came across the Dom character and I said to myself, "I've got to try out for this guy, he seems kind of ill. Seems pretty 'dope'". One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I was on set in character, handsome and shit.
It's surprising you had time to make the film away from recording the new album?
Yeah the music is amazing. I've got time to do everything; it's all about moderation. You just have to pace yourself. I'm in the studio every day and I still find time to make love to women every night.
Dope turns stereotypes on their head. How do you feel about the film?
I'd compare it to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, mixed with a bit of Spring Breakers and you sprinkle a little bit of Juice with Tupac and then you have it. A masterpiece.
Did you see comparisons between the film, your character and your music? Some people find your lyrics too aggressive.
It's fine. You know it's all art. You can't make them think. I put it out there into the room and however people perceive it and how they feel about it is on them. I can't force anyone to think anything.
Two of the film's Executive Producers are Pharrell Williams and Sean Combs, and they worked on the soundtrack album too. Did you enjoy that collaboration?
Yeah man it's easy. I think those guys, they have a vision that we can't even comprehend. If you take all the stuff that Pharrell is doing alone, and you think about Despicable Me and all the soundtracks that he's doing, I mean come on! Puff Daddy, that goes without saying, is the godfather of urban music, hands down.
The film is about the stereotyping of black people. How does race affect your career?
Race doesn't mean shit these days, especially for me. I'm a free spirit. I refuse to be marginalised, held back or limited because of colour. There are people who play into that, and people who don't give a fuck about it and choose not to live in that society. I'm an anarchist man, I'm all about the people who don't give a fuck about colours and all of that dumb shit. You know it sounds good, especially me in my position saying it, but even if I was poor I would still be saying it.
Can you be a rich anarchist?
Hell yeah! Why not? It's a society amongst society, anarchy, why not. I have my own lifestyle, I have a cult following. There are people who actually want to eat what I eat, dress how I dress, fuck the type of women that I fuck and shower how I shower. They might even shit how I shit! That is a cult following. They apply my anarchy. What I'm saying to you is that I encourage people to be entrepreneurs and be the best that they can be. That's the whole purpose of it. I'm not stupid. I'm an anarchist.
Do you need to represent?
No man. I think I represent the Arab right now, man. I represent the Arab.
Can you speak about use of the N-word in the film and your songs?
You have to realise that it's 2015 and it's part of my vernacular. You have to realise something man, that not only minorities might use the N-word, not to make it cool, but I come from an era and a type of lifestyle that made it more than acceptable, that made it common. It's a no-brainer, so for us it's not like we are saying the N-word in private. I do it out in public, because I am who I am. I refuse to hide who I am for anyone, so for me it's like if you watch my first video it's a white girl with grills saying the N-word. Who gives a fuck? It's called Purple Swag. It's a white girl and her name is Anna Perp. That's my first video that I directed. She's saying the N-word, and you know why? Because that is the time we are living in, that shit don't matter.
Text Kaleem Aftab