Interview by Joe La Puma
From SNEEZE NO.14 winter 2011
It’s late fall in NYC, A$AP Rocky is on rapper time. He’s an hour and a half late, due to a last minute meeting about a video series featuring him and his crew. These days his schedule is jam-packed, which makes sense for an artist that just inked a three-million-dollar deal with RCA records. Some would say that giving a rapper a major deal on the heels of just two songs isn’t fiscally responsible, but Rocky is a safe bet. It doesn’t hurt that A$AP’s “Purple Swag” and “Peso” were two of the best rap songs of 2011.
Rocky’s multi-coastal flow and hybrid rhyming style make him unique, and whether you’re a fan or not, his diversity deserves to be applauded. As he finally shows up to sound check, he greets his A$AP cohorts like a young boss, going over the night’s set list. He has the DNA of a person from Harlem — he’s charismatic and well-dressed and he doesn’t take shit from anyone. A perfect recipe for a household name, Rocky’s ready for super-stardom. Ground control to ASAP Rocky.
You told The New York Times that it would bring a tear to your eye to be embraced by New Yorkers. Why do you think some people have been reluctant to co-sign you?
A$AP: Because I came out of nowhere, I’m an Internet child, and I’ve gotten a deal so quick. There are people that have been in the game for three or four years that don’t have a deal, or one that suits them correctly. I feel like a lot of people weren’t convinced because my mixtape didn’t drop before I got the deal. I don’t blame them. I felt I’d make believers out of everybody when Live.Love.A$AP drops.
A lot of people also criticized you for rapping too Houston-like when “Purple Swag” dropped, was that annoying for you?
A$AP: It was natural when I did it. I didn’t study a fuckin’ Pimp C. record or video, it was all natural. It’s like, you can’t stop the trillness. I was sipping on some syrup and I was influenced by all of that Houston shit, that Memphis shit, that New Orleans shit. At the end of the day it was everything I grew up on. It became quite easy for me to make those records that you hear today because I grew up on that shit.
Do you pride yourself on making diverse records?
A$AP: I like making different kinds of records. I like to be diverse and versatile. That’s my only purpose. I don’t like to give you the same thing over and over and over. I want the people who hate one type of song to like another type of song. It’s all good, you can’t please everybody and honestly I’m just doing me, whatever pleases me.
One thing that is different from you and a lot of rappers is that you don’t really glorify selling drugs.
A$AP: Well, I can rest assured my bills will be paid without having to worry about getting caught by cops or getting hit by a stray bullet or being mugged. That drug shit is corny. A lot of rappers glorify it because they never really lived it. I actually lived it and I don’t have to front. Like, I’ve never been a gangster, I’ve never been a tough guy, I’ve always just been about me and my business. I don’t perpetrate a fraud, so I’m not no trap motherfucker, but I can rap about it because I experienced it.
You said your brother influenced everything about you and you lost him at an early age, how tough was that for you to go through?
A$AP: I hated it. I was mad at God himself for a while. I was young. It was really tough and I was so lonely. He was my mentor, the guy to look up to, my go-to guy. It was just like, I lost the only person that really actually treated me equally as a friend when he had no reason to. Honestly, he was really so genuinely nice to me, and I know how it feels to be loved and I know how it feels to have your love taken away.
That must’ve have been tough…
A$AP: I guess that’s why I’m so harsh with women. I know this sounds pretty weird but it’s the truth. I know how it feels to be hurt. When my brother died it was like I lost my wife and children. I mean, it felt like I lost my fuckin’ brother and that’s what happened.
What exactly about losing your brother affects how you deal with women?
A$AP: With women I just feel like that’s a whole ‘nother situation, but I just feel like I don’t trust them. I don’t. I like a lot of women but I don’t trust them. You can’t. Especially when you’re in my position. Like right now, it’s like, “Yo! So you’re really in love with me? Yeah? Okay.” Just finish what you were doing. [A$AP makes a fellatio motion].
Is the groupie situation steadily increasing?
A$AP: It’s so crazy, it’s crazy! I just take advantage of the situation and make sure all my brothers get some pussy. Every last one of them. The A$AP crew they never go without.
What was it like kicking it with Drake?
A$AP: It was cool. He’s way more humble and appreciative and down to earth than I thought. Like, he appreciates regular people. That guy, he’s a good guy. And shout-outs to Mac Miller, he’s a good friend of mine, too. Drake and Mac Miller those are my boys right there.
Have either of them helped or taught you stuff?
A$AP: Mac and I just randomly speak every other day about random bullshit. Like Mac is really my boy. Like his boys, when he’s away in different countries and shit, come out here like to visit with us for days. Those are my guys. They come out and we smoke and chill. My crew embraces his crew and his crew does the same. People hate on Mac Miller, that shit pisses me off. I don’t like that shit, that’s my friend. I’ll smack the shit out of somebody if they disrespect Mac.
So you’ve talked about the Hodgy Beats situation in a lot of interviews. Were you surprised by the stray shot?
A$AP: I don’t know. You think he’s crazy? Maybe he’s crazy. He might be crazy but he’s far from stupid. I just look at it like, “Yo, I love Odd Future, fuck that shit, I love them little niggas.” Them niggas are wild. Tyler never dissed me, Taco shows love. I don’t have anything bad to say about Odd Future, but if I see Hodgy and Left Brain, I’m going to have a little talk with them. But I doubt I could get to them.
Do you see Odd Future as competition?
A$AP: No, you know why? ’Cause you got to look at it like this: me and Space Ghost Purp, our fan base was at the same place for a while. Like now, I’m getting more popular or whatever the case. I’m Raider Klan, I’m A$AP Raider Klan. We’re the same. If me and Purp can do it, why can’t me and Odd Future and Purp do it? Why can’t me, Odd Future and Danny Brown do it? We could all stick together and be cool. Honestly I don’t want to come into this industry with any enemies, but at the same time, I will fuck one of them motherfuckers up. I’ll smack the shit out of anybody on some real shit, but at the same time I got love for Odd Future.
You’re definitely a fashion-forward dude, where did you get your fashion-sense from?
A$AP: My brother taught me how to style. Like, he was light-skinned with all the girls and shit. His nickname was “Pretty Ricky,” so he used to get all the girls and I was like, “I want to be like him.” He was “Pretty Ricky” and I’m that “Pretty Motherfucker” and I’m trying to walk in his shoes. Honestly, I wear whatever I don’t see everybody else wearing. Like these are black ACNE jeans. They look regular, but not many people are wearing these. I like that. Then I have my fucking army coat ’cause I’m still gutter, and Timbs on ‘cause I still do this. This is just for sound check, wait till you see what I have on tonight. Might come through with some Alexander Wang, stylin’ on motherfuckers yo, Rick Owens and shit.
Have you always been a trendsetter?
A$AP: Hell fuckin’ yeah! In high school I had all the hoes on my dick. Ask anybody man, I used to go to high school around the corner from here. The School for the Humanities, it’s right around the corner from where we are right now and I used to have all the hoes. All the hoes.
I bet now you’re getting a lot of free shit.
A$AP: Oh, hell yeah, but not from the brands I really want free stuff from. Raf Simons didn’t call me, Jeremy Scott still didn’t call me, Rick Owens didn’t. They might soon, hopefully.
How fun was it fucking with label execs?
A$AP: Oh my God! One executive, he wanted me to come to his office and I’m like, “Yo, you got to take me shopping at Barneys first because I got to look presentable for the interview. If you don’t, then I can’t come.” I told him I needed these new Lanvin shoes and Marc Jacobs pants, and to make sure he had them. He was like, “You’ll get it Monday, don’t worry about it.” I was like, “No, it’s not going to happen.” He ended up going, and missing his flight to LA. After it he was like, “You made me late for my flight motherfucker.” That was fun.
You’re probably a few months away from being at a place where you can’t really go outside without a lot of people noticing you, are you ready for that kind of attention?
A$AP: Shit. I mean I can still walk around and people don’t fuck with me. They just say, “What’s up.” I don’t see that much craziness happening. I just want to be what I’m meant to be. I just want to have recognition for the work that I do and my talents. ♠