Real Name: Jesus Steven Manuel Rodriguez Paulino
From: "I'm from Harlem, Morningside. It was crazy because it was the border. There was gentrification going on. Up the block was motherfuckin' Columbia University and Broadway and where Seinfeld used to polly at. But if you go just one block down, that's where all the Blacks and Latinos were at. There was some real hood shit going down. What's funny is that Rocky used to be on my block, and I didn't even know that until recently."
Known For: The birthmark on his face, managing A$AP Rocky.
How He Met A$AP Rocky: "I met Rocky through a mutual friend, A$AP Bari. He told me, 'Yo, I've got this kid. He's rapping.' He was telling me for months, and I kept putting it to the side until I was able to meet him. Then I was like, 'This motherfucker's crazy.' After that, it was on. Four months later, he randomly called me from Alabama, because he was in school. He was like, 'I'm just trying to come up and do this music shit. I need help.' I was like, 'Let's get this shit rocking.'
Role In A$AP: "My focus is to take A$AP to the next level. I want A$AP to be the next Def Jam or Universal or LaFace Records or something like that. I'm just the motherfucker that connects the dots. I handle all the day-to-day shit. I make sure Rocky's got his shit right. I'm the executive producer of A$AP. I handpicked every beat on that motherfucking album for him to rock with. I pretty much gave him the sound for that shit. I play the back, at all times. You don't even have to worry about me. I'm not trying to be crazy with it, but if a motherfucker needs some ad-libs, holler at me."
Before The Fame: "I was never on the block, because my mom would kill me. I'd be selling bud in school, and I was always doing the music shit. I was always doing internships and shit like that. I interned for Jim Jones, under Duke Da God, at Asylum. It's always been music for me since day one."
Since The Fame: "The OG's have been showing us love, but the craziest shit is seeing all the people. We're not even too popping like that yet and already people are getting A$AP tattoos. That shit is bugged out to me, because this time last year, me and Rocky were trying to figure out a way to put money together. I was watching him recording in the closet. So for this to happen just nine months later, I damn near shed a tear and shit."
On Fashion: "The whole fashion shit really came through A$AP Bari. He was the one really pushing the limit, as far as clothes. He'd be walking through the projects and there'd be a whole bunch of hood niggas, like, “Look at these motherfuckers with these tight-ass jeans. Fuck out of here.” Motherfuckers used to just start shit and fight him because they weren't open-minded, but he was the one that really kicked the door in, as far as A$AP doing the whole fashion thing. Everybody just caught on. My fashion shit is a lot different from everybody else's in A$AP. They're on some designer shit; I be on some late-90's shit. With my first rap check, I bought a $1,000 Versace shirt and I bought some Iceberg shit."
Wildest Night: "I was at dinner with Rocky in Miami. There was this Mexican lady on the street selling flowers, and I bought like $100-worth of roses to give out to the shorties. I was fucked up. I don’t know what the fuck I was doing. After that, I went to the strip club. There was a lot of tension in the air, because I was the only Spanish motherfucker in there. There was nothing but dread-head Haitians in there. I was with the strippers, whispering in their ears that I was French Montana’s little brother and shit. Then one of the strippers blessed me with the lip-service to 'Pe$o.' That was probably the craziest night that I’ve had so far, since the whole shit exploded. No homo.
What He's Learned: "Always keep your business right. The music industry is 95% business and 5% music. If your business isn't right, that could really fuck your whole shit up. Aside from the record labels, it's the lawyers, the accountants and management. If they're not doing their jobs, it's going to really make it hard for the artist to do what he's got to do. On top of that, it's about keeping your integrity, because there's a lot of bullshit they try to have motherfuckers do, and we don't be with it. I thought this shit was all fun and games."
What's Next: "I'm really trying to brand this shit to the next level. We're going to drop the A$AP mixtape before we drop an album. It's really going to be like an old-school mixtape. We may get DJ Clue to host it or one of them motherfuckers from back then. I'm going to be talking all over that shit. We've got some collaborations with clothing lines and high-end designers coming soon. Shit's looking good right now."
Final Words: "Before the music, we were just a regular crew, going to different parties and turning shit up. A$AP—Always Strive And Prosper—was the slogan that we all lived by. It was something that we strongly believed in. We didn't want to have a crew just based off the material shit and things that don't matter in life. We wanted to give it a real meaning and depth. We come up with different meanings for A$AP all the time, though: acquire status and power, always stacking always paper-chasing, assassinate snitches and police, Allah saves all people. Rocky says it stands for "acronym symbolizing any purpose," but that shit sounds gay as hell. But that just gives us all something to live by. It helps us wake up the next day. We know that we're destined for something, and that we're here for something better."