A$AP Mob's mastermind breaks down how to parlay Tumblr fame into real-world rap riches.
This feature is a part of Complex's "Tumblr Generation" Week.
Long before he landed the A$AP Mob a $3 million record deal with RCA/Polo Grounds, 25-year-old A$AP Yams did something that took just a couple of minutes and impacted the rest of his career. He opended up a Tumblr page. His carefully curated, now defunct RealNiggaTumblr was instrumental in building a buzz for a bunch of unknown Harlem rappers who are now one of the most in-demand overall crews in rap. Not only did Yams master the art of blowing up on Tumblr, he did so without letting the A$AP Mob get pigeonholed as a bunch of "Tumblr rappers" Come to think of it, nobody in the music industry has perfected the Tumblr to rap riches flip better than Yamborghini. Peep game.
As told to David Drake (@SoManyShrimp)
How have you been?
Shit, chilling man, fucking working. Just got back to New York from L.A., about to head to Japan tomorrow, and shit; the work don’t fucking stop at all. A$AP Ant and A$AP Nast got some type of tour booked out there some fucking way. I don’t know how. And they’re doing a couple shows out there, and some in-store’s in some Japanese spots and shit. So I’m going to head over there and just play chaperone and make sure they’re fucking taken care of. I’m kind of scared because that whole... I ain’t never been there, but I’m kind of fucking scared because of that whole North Korea shit. So I told the homie, if it go down, you got to catch my fade. Bombs drop you’ve got to catch my fade off rip. I’ma fuck you up, pick you back up, and we’re going back home.
The latest A$AP Rocky album definitely got a huge reception.
We’re slowly approaching Gold right now, I believe so. The singles just went Platinum and shit like that, but I still haven’t gotten my plaque for that because they said they were going to give us all our plaques once we go Gold. Like, fuck it—because we’re pretty close to it. The sales [are] doing pretty well, we’re about to shoot a couple more videos. We’re about to wrap up some videos actually off the album to just keep the sales going and shit.
I started the Tumblr to just put up all this miscellaneous [stuff] that wouldn’t fit into my Wordpress blog. And it slowly grew into something else. I noticed I was getting a bigger audience on the Tumblr, so that’s when I put all my energy into the Tumblr.
What have you been listening to lately?
As far as the usuals, I listen to a lot of Chicago shit, obviously. Other than that, I don’t listen to anybody I don’t get money with at this point. I just stay in my own zone and shit. So I just been listening to the Aston Matthews, Joey Fatts, the kid 100s—you know what I’m saying? Other than that it’s been the same ol’ shit.
Does that mean you’re not really keeping up with stuff anymore? How do you keep up with music?
I do keep up with music as far as I need to know what’s on my radar. I always stay at the bottom no matter what. I mean, like, if somebody takes one step on that bottom of that ladder I’m there, like, “Oh, what’s up? Like, what’s good playboy? Like, what’s the word,” you feel me? I still keep up with the music, but I don’t put enough energy into it to really fully embrace it, unless it really just catches my attention like that.
Where do you find out about new music?
I don’t really check blogs too much. I actually just keep up with music, luckily, through the Tumblr shit. I did form some type of associations with people that not necessarily blog, but I look at as taste-makers. So, you know the Twitter shit—you know, I always keep up. They usually tweet about an artist they fuck with at the time. I always make sure I keep my ears open, my eyes open nowadays. Because it’s more visual anyway so whatever they’re talking about on the Internet. So, you know, I don’t really keep up with the blog shit too much. Unless it’s like a really well-written editorial. I don’t really fuck with just regular blogs nowadays.
Tell me a little bit about when you first started the Tumblr. What were you trying to do?
I had another website at the time. All I did was just copy and paste shit from other content blogs that I fucked with. So I started the Tumblr to just put up all this miscellaneous shit that wouldn’t fit into my Wordpress blog at the time. And it slowly grew into something else. I noticed I was getting a bigger audience on the Tumblr, so that’s when I put all my energy into [Realniggatumblr]. I went out and purposely bought a scanner. Alright, motherfuckers like all these cool little pictures and shit like that? Images of rappers from the '90s? If that’s what they like, I’m going to keep posting that shit. It was a research study of what kids of the Internet age, what drives them to keep following a certain website. I took all their interests and put it all on one website for them to enjoy and keep looking at every day. And that’s when I started writing, and people started to like my shit. I didn’t feel I was a good writer, you know what I mean? My intention wasn’t to be a journalist, ever. You feel me? That shit was a hustle since day one. I just knew how to voice my opinion very well and get my point across in a similar comedic way so it doesn’t look like some dry-ass piece of writing.
What surprised you when you started doing the Tumblr? What didn’t you anticipate?
I didn’t anticipate people liking the hood shit too much. All the little hood shit I put up, I didn’t really think they’d get jiggy to that—you feel me? At that time during Tumblr everybody was just the cool stoner kid. There was pictures of kids smoking weed in their snapbacks and shit like that. Then I came out of nowhere: you know, I put up a fucking photo of Three 6 Mafia or some music or some obscure shit from Memphis from back in the day, and kids is really drawn to it. And that’s what kind of led to the time we’re at now where everybody is really just appreciative of Southern Rap culture and other different regions and their cultures and shit like that. Because that shit wasn’t present at the time where I started Tumblr. At the time my bitch was on it, you feel me? And I used to look at [Tumblr] like, “That’s fucking wack. What the fuck are you doing right now? This is what you do with your life all day. Fuck outta here.” Then it slowly became a hobby for me where I actually enjoyed it because people were appreciating what I put up and shit.