I might just be the last person to discover this generation’s poster boy for the American Dream – A$AP Rocky. For those who don’t know let me bring you up to his speed – if that’s possible. A$AP (pronounced “asap”) is the King of cross-promotion, a style icon of this time; both front-rower and collaborator to the fashion set and not in the least, a musical vanguard.
The young hip hop artist from the streets of Harlem divined his own providence in his 2013 debut album LIVE. LOVE. ASAP. Between the albums’ tracks, street talk literally banters the audience into a wake-up call:
“Recognise that SH*T; better F***IN’ recognise that F***IN’ name RIGHT NOW – A$AP … F***IN’ A$AP!”.
Much like KAYNE’S narration of himself in the third-person, this form of “self-belief” in a way allowed both to preempt validations of their success in traditional media. So by the time popular opinion caught on, they had already called it. Insert KAYNE’S GOD-COMPLEX reference here. However, despite the force of the message, the authenticity and natural agenda of the group is what has cemented their musical and artistic presence.
Rocky a.k.a. Rakim Mayers, is a child of the late eighties and the authentic hip-hop deal. Growing up in disadvantage, he survived his way through homeless shelters with his mother after his father was called out for alleged drug dealing. His older brother died when Rakim was 13, but in serendipitous manner he found himself a friend and mentor in A$AP Yams (Jesus Steven Manuel Rodrugues Paulino). A$AP Yams was one of the co-founders of the A$AP Mob, made up of counterpart personalities A$AP – Ferg, Twelvyy, Nast, Ant and later A$AP Rocky. Their album featured on the popular NYC Station HOT 97, exploding them onto the top of the charts and the rest is as they say – HISTORY.
One of the biggest singles off that album ‘Fashion Killa’ was co-produced by Rocky and features him alongside Rihanna in the music video as they shop the town. Rocky drops designer names alongside gangster references, inextricably linking his world with the aspirational life, which is mirrored in both his music and personal style. These days A$AP Rocky can be seen in attendance at all the major fashion weeks paying the respectful nods to the designer on show. Whether garbed head-to-toe in Gucci or donning a Calvin Klein he still manages to own his look with personal signatures from the hair braids to his old VANS. In other-words keeping it ‘real’ and for consumers -somewhat ‘accessible’.
He approaches the fashion runway like a modern day Andy Warhol, often seen filming the shows with his super 8 camera. Running in these circles has led to collaborations with Guess Originals, Adidas Originals and UK Fashion Designer JW Anderson. For London’s Fall 2015 season he launched the successful capsule collection entitled JWA X A$AP Rocky and AWGE, which contained a mix of perennially cool “track” style pieces, branded knit beanies and faux fur “teddy” coats.
It’s not just fashion collaborations either, Rocky drops feature tracks with fellow industry leaders. You can check out his latest track with Maroon 5 ‘Whiskey’ on the groups page A$AP Mob which dropped this October (2017).
In 2016 on US radio Ebro in the morning show with Travis Scott talks “shop” with A$AP Rocky. He is a natural and humble speaker, approaching the interview with the same authenticity as his music. Rocky talks about the late A$AP YAMS contribution to the group, his inclusion in the FORBES 30 Under 30 All-Stars (2016) and the way they directed the A$AP collective from mix tapes to the lucrative label it is today. Rocky’s approach can be summed up in his own words:
“If you model take that to the next level, if you art and you draw take that to the next level, its common sense – it’s utilising the gifts around you … that’s how you make stars everyday”.
His street savvy and persistence has equipped him with the “Midas” touch he puts down to common sense. A$AP, which stands for ‘Always Strive and Prosper’, is a perfect assignment to the group’s hard work and Rocky’s own personal taste and style ventures… Watch this space – along with his 6.8 million (and counting) Instagram followers.