A$AP Rocky is the 23-year-old, internet rap phenomenon keeping it trill with his lyrical New York wit, a sartorial flair that does ‘hood’ so good and enough obscure high fashion references to keep us all confused and captivated at the same time.
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Living by the self-penned mantra “Always Strive and Prosper”, or “Always Stackin’ and Paper-chasin’”, or perhaps “Accumulate Status and Power” Rocky, along with his Harlem-based crew, is busy carving his own one-of-a-kind niche in the rap game. After dropping the free to download mixtape LiveLoveA$AP late last year as well as releasing his co-directed music videos for hits ‘Purple Swag‘,’Peso‘ and most recently ‘Wassup‘, Rocky officially has the internet going nuts. In an age where it can be all about the music video, he’s got all the boxes ticked: a dope ass green-haired chick by his side, gold teeth by the ton, and lots of Yohji Yamamoto x Adidas cameos. 10 million plus views on YouTube don’t lie. Ending 2011 off right, A$AP Rock signed a 7-figure record deal which will allow him the freedom to further explore various personal creative projects. Quite the charmer, i-D online had a quick chat with the rapper during a recent visit to Toronto.
You kind of just came on the scene out of nowhere and immediately generated a lot of buzz, what do you think caught peoples’ attention? I’m this dude from New York talking about this high fashion lifestyle stuff, ignorant stuff and positive stuff all at the same time. It’s just leaving people confused. I like to leave people in a state of mind where they don’t even know what’s going on. People think I’m illuminati or a devil worshiper because of the ‘Wassup‘ video. People don’t even get the message. So it’s cool. I like people to just wonder, that’s my thing.
How did you meet your crew? In Harlem. We kind of grew up together in our mid-teens.
What differentiates you from all the other young new rap crews coming onto the scene right now? We’re us and they’re them. That’s all.
You rap a lot about clothes, what’s your first memory of being exposed to fashion? There were these shoes from Alessandro Dell’acqua that I had when I was younger. I also really liked Marc Jacobs.
So how important is fashion to your music? It is what it is. I didn’t realise the importance until people made it a big deal. I’m gonna do this regardless. I might stop name-dropping though. I’m not even gonna rap about brands anymore because I don’t want people to think I’m doing it on purpose. If you see me, you see me; you don’t then you don’t. I don’t even wear stuff with monograms on it because I don’t want people to identify what I’m wearing. I don’t want no name brand tags and labels and all that. You’re supposed to try to figure out, “What does this dude have on right now?” Only a real fashion dude would know.
How did you start directing videos and where do you hope to go with it? I wanna take it really far. It’s something I want to pursue as a serious career. I started directing videos because every time we would do a song I would close my eyes and I would have a vision. I wanted to execute it and make it come to life and I thought the only proper way to do that was to do it myself. This goes there, I want this like that… Then I started writing treatments, visuals and then I started checking out cameras and now I’m learning how to edit. I still need a lot of help with that. I want to start my own production company under A$AP worldwide and BLVCK SCVLE in the process.
Who should be on the next cover of i-D? Me. Why not? I will be one day soon…
Clap your ears around A$AP Rocky’s track Kissin’ Pink Feat. A$AP Ferg on i-D’s February mixtape here.
Text: Hazel Ong
Photography: Kevin Marzo
Special thanks to Lola Plaku