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$AP all the time, though: acquire status and power, always stacking always paper-chasing, assassinate snitches and police, Allah saves all people. Rocky says it stands for "acronym symbolizing any purpose," but that shit sounds gay as hell. But that just gives us all something to live by. It helps us wake up the next day. We know that we're destined for something, and that we're here for something better."
Real Name: Jabari Shelton
From: "Born and raised in Harlem. I lived on 116th. Then I moved uptown. Then I moved downtown to where the white people live at, but a nigga still lives in the hood right now. I'm still in the hood everyday."
Known For: Starting A$AP, getting the crew into fashion.
How He Met A$AP Rocky: "I grew up with him damn-near half of my life. Rocky's way older than me. He went to my little school so I didn't even know Rocky around that time. This was around probably sixth grade. [Then in high school] he was a senior and I was a freshman. By the time I really got to know everybody, he already was leaving."
Role In A$AP: "I started A$AP. The homie Yams has been my homeboy since I was younger. We used to go downtown on the 2 train and go shopping and shit. It was just cool from there, shopping and chilling with each other, finding different clothing and streetwear stores together. This was like, 2004 or 2005. This was when BAPE and all of that shit first started popping. Me and Yams have known each other for damn-near 11 years. We were down with another crew with Teyana Taylor. Me, Yams, Teyana Taylor and A$AP Illz was in a grew together. Me, A$AP Yams and A$AP Illz started A$AP. ASAP Illz is Illijah. He's the A$AP model. From there, we were down with a crew called Team Nerd. Same shit, but then me, Illz and Yams stopped fucking with that shit. We parted from that whole shit, because it was getting corny. So we decided to come up with a crew. At first, it was just us chilling, doing our own thing. Then, we just started linking up with different niggas. Then, we just formed A$AP.
One day, we were all in Wendy's in SoHo. I was like, 'Yo, we're always trying to come up with different names and shit. We should just be called PIF Unit.' The shit was like, Paid In Full, something. So one day, Yams was like, 'Fuck that. We're called A$AP.' I was like, 'What the fuck that mean?' He was like, 'Always Strive And Prosper.' I was like, 'You know what, Yams? That shit is too hard.' From there, we just ran with that bitch. Yams is a smart music genius. Yams is the reason why Rocky is at where he's at right now. If it wasn't for Yams, Rocky wouldn't never be anywhere in the industry. What Yams did was he branded his Tumblr and made people fuck with Rocky off the simple point that they didn't know Yams knew Rocky. Nobody knew who this guy was with this good-ass Tumblr, hitting young niggas with old knowledge. That's why Yams is the reason we're going to make it so far. When I first met him, he was working for Dipset. He was working for Duke Da God and Max B. That nigga's always been into this music shit. So he knows half of the story to this rap game. That nigga just sits at the computer. There were times when I didn't even see that nigga. You wouldn't see that nigga for half of a whole year in the streets, until someone points out that Yams has been in the house just brainstorming. So wherever he's at right now, he's been working for that. He's been plotting on this for a long time."
Before The Fame: "I was the same skinny jean–wearing nigga that still skateboards in the hood. I was one of those niggas just on my downtown white-boy shit, but still in the hood. Still chilling with them niggas who was murdering niggas. Still chilling with the gangsters. Still chilling with the homies, the Bloods, all of them niggas. I was just my own self. I wasn't the nigga to have the True Religion outfit."
Since The Fame: "The craziest thing was for Hov to tell us that he fucks with Rocky and not to fuck with Cristal anymore, even though we still do. It was an honor for him to be like, 'I listen to y'all music.' It shocked the shit out of me. For a nigga's mixtape to just come out, and you've got Hov taking time out his day. He's on the Watch The Throne and this nigga's listening to Rocky. That's when I knew shit was real, because that's Hov. After Hov, who's not going to listen? Other than that, the bitches have been crazy.
On Fashion: "I'm more of a vintage shopper. I like coming up on very rare pieces. My girl just recently bought me a pair of Balmains and shit, some biker joints, damn-near two stacks. I'm the type of nigga where this fashion shit is my lifestyle. This isn't just some shit I do because another nigga is doing it. I don't wear these clothes just because Kanye West said something. I wear these clothes because I've been known about this. Raf Simons just did a hoodie and a T-shirt for us. I've been wearing Raf way before that. The shit's crazy, because all the shit that we're getting right now is deserved, because we've been on our shit. We've been wearing skinny shit. We didn't just do this because motherfuckers saw this shit on TV. We were actually doing this and then seeing niggas on TV copy off of us. The whole industry is nothing but a knock-off of SoHo and the motherfucking Lower East Side. When you see something funky and new and fresh with the clothing, just know that's me. That's all me. Like with the Nike jacket. Niggas made Destroyer jackets. Celebrities made destroyer jackets, and we were the only motherfuckers that got posted up on Hypebeast and all these other blogs."
What He's Learned: "I haven't learned anything yet. I haven't seen anything that I hadn't seen. I've seen some shady shit in the industry, but that comes with real life anyway. At the end of the day, this industry shit is not what it seems. It's just a whole bunch of wack niggas that ain't got no swag. They start seeing the young niggas, and they start getting afraid. We're fans of everybody, man. That's why I was mad at the whole Odd Future thing. These motherfuckers. We've been wearing Supreme way before y'all niggas was even thought of. So for y'all to ever say that niggas was copying y'all style, because niggas wore a fucking towel over our heads? Niggas, it's hot outside. What the fuck do you think we're doing? I just feel like the West Coast is copying our style. And they feel like we're copying their style, but it's nothing like that."
What's Next: "I just want people to know that I'm coming out with a clothing line. That's about it. I don't want to say the name or anything."
Final Words: "I just want people to know me as a nigga that's been doing this. Anything that you see in A$AP is our lifestyle. There's nothing fake about it. Anything we do, we do it because we've been doing it, not because we watch TV. Like a nigga like Soulja Boy. Whatever he sees somebody do, he wants to copy that. We're not those type of motherfuckers. We're trendsetters more than anything. I feel like nobody took the time out. We knew so many motherfuckers that knew Kanye, that knew Jay-Z, that knew Drake, and it's just like, motherfuckers look out for themselves. That's what I've noticed about this whole shit. These motherfuckers are looking out for themselves. With A$AP, there's none of that. We look out for each other. We just had to cut a member off because he was being selfish. There's no selfishness. No thinking about yourself. We've had to go through that with this whole A$AP shit. Ever since we got poppin', we've seen niggas become phony and fake, and we just cut niggas off day-by-day. Shout out to the homie A$AP Illz, A$AP Deem, A$AP Rick, A$AP AV, A$AP Josh, A$AP Rellie, A$AP K, who helps me out with the designs—and that's about it. Did you talk to A$AP Dom? We don't fuck with that nigga. That's alright though. That's just who we had to eliminate because he was on some selfish shit, but I ain't even going to get into that. Most people just see the rappers and shit, but this shit is a real family. People have got to look at us like Dipset, because it's a family. They were just a whole bunch of niggas that were friends, but they were brothers. That's how we are."
Real Name: Darold Ferguson
From: "I'm from Harlem, born in Harlem Hospital. I was raised on 143rd and Amsterdam."
Known For: "Kissin' Pink" on Live.Love.A$AP
How He Met A$AP Rocky: "Rocky is a childhood friend of mine. We met just being different, being some poppin' niggas from the hood. We fucked crazy bitches and were little legends in our own realm. Real recognizes real, and we started doing music together around 13 or 14 years old. We go back."
Role In A$AP: "A brother, an innovator, motivator, and family. I can be there for you, whether it's money or we're both broke. We're going to be broke together. I'm the go-to person if you need help. I'm always that shoulder to lean on."
Before The Fame: "I went to college for two years for marketing and management, but during those times I was a hustler. I wasn't selling drugs or anything like that, but my father had a printing business, and I used to help him. I used to do logos and print shirts for money. Whatever I could run across to make a dollar, I'd make it happen."
Since The Fame: "I'm not rich. We're definitely not rich. In fact, I'm broke right now. I'm rich in opportunity and we have a great future ahead of us. We're not just young wild niggas. Don't get it conflicted because we wear black hoodies or I might look like a hoodlum. We have smarts, we're street smart, and we have business etiquette."
On Fashion: "Clothes is nothing. I wore this same hoodie at a video shoot yesterday and the day before that. I probably slept in this shit. I don't care about clothes, but I will get fly on their asses. So don't get it confused."
What He's Learned: "I've learned to accept problems and not get mad at them. I can't get mad anymore. If I get mad, I'll just lose my mind. I'm going to always be at the bottom of the barrel fighting, so I might as well do it in a humble way."
What's Next: "The whole plan is to blow the Ferg merch up. Then I'm going to put out the A$AP Ferg mixtape. It's going to have the world flipping upside down and doing somersaults."
Final Words: "I definitely want to work with R. Kelly. Motherfuckers laugh at this shit, but I'm dead serious. I want to sit down and write some video treatments with that nigga. I really think Tyler Perry stole his whole wave."
A$AP Ty Beats
Real Name: Tyshaun Holloway
From: "I'm from Harlem, the same block that Rocky's from: 139th and Lenox."
Known For: Producing "Pe$o"
How He Met A$AP Rocky: "I hit him on Facebook one day and we connected. Ever since then, we've been fucking with each other on the music shit. That's my big brozay. Rocky was in Jersey at the time that I hit him up. The first time I met him was downtown on Canal. He picked me up from the bus. It was him and the person who started A$AP, A$AP Bari. I've been fucking with them ever since."
Role In A$AP: "I'm the little brother. I'm looking up to them. I see how they move. I'm learning off what they're doing. So whenever I'm around them, I'm being attentive, and I'm being observant, and putting it together, and analyzing shit, and trying to grow myself as a person."
Before The Fame: "I would try to occupy my time, but a lot of shit gets boring to me quickly. For a while, I was playing basketball. I was doing regular kid shit. I didn't live too much of an extravagant young life. I was making beats all the time."
Since The Fame: "People be on my dick now, OD. Niggas is hitting me up, bitches is hitting me up. It's mad easy to fuck bitches now. Bad bitches, too."
On Fashion: "I'm going to come clean. We're the flyest niggas out right now. I'm not OD into fashion like Nast or Rocky or Bari, but I try to look into the Alexander Wangs and the Rick Owens. But I was never into clothes."
What He's Learned: "There's way more out there. There's millions and billions of fucking money everywhere, and I want to touch that money."
What's Next: "It sounds crazy as fuck, but I'm trying to build my own college. That shit would be an amazing accomplishment: a young black kid building his own college off of nothing but networking with people."
Final Words: "I want to be rich to the point where I can take care of my family. I don't even want to just make music. I want to be an inventor. I want to originate different shit in technology, archaeology, everything with an 'ology' at the end. I want to make something."
Real Name: Tairiq Devega
From: "I rep all of Harlem, but I'm from Morningside, so I'll rep that until the death of me. I'm from 115th and Morningside Avenue."
Known For: "Trilla" on Live.Love.A$AP
How He Met A$AP Rocky: "Rocky is my cousin. That's the fam. We were distant cousins for a while. We hung around when we were younger. Then after a while, he went his own way. He moved up to the BX and we parted ways. I knew where he was, but I was doing my own thing. Eventually, the whole A$AP thing started, and that reunited us. Then, Bari and them started fucking with him. They started bringing him to the hood, and I was like, 'Oh shit, my long-lost cousin.' Next thing you know, we were back at it."
Role In A$AP: "I'm the nigga that rapped and then didn't want to rap anymore. I'm a role model to my brothers. I be making sure shit is good behind the scenes and on-camera."
Before The Fame: "All I knew was selling weed, making a dollar and rocking the flyest shit. That's it. It damn sure wasn't school. I dropped out after age 18. I was just in the hood, making money and living life without giving a fuck."
Since The Fame: "They fucked around and gave us the public eye. That's the biggest thing, because if you don't have the public eye on you—you ain't nobody. Obviously, things have changed for me drastically. I was a nigga from the hood. Now, I'm on tour with Drizzy Drake."
On Fashion: "I think fashion is what brought us all together. We're so close because we were all fly. We would all feed off of each other like, 'Damn, this nigga's a fly nigga. I've got to get up on this and make sure I'm on my shit.' So we all fed off each other with that shit and it made us monsters at the end of the day."
What He's Learned: "Everyone in the industry isn't who you think they are when you're outside of it. Some people we met—I ain't going to say no names—but they're assholes. The people you look up to before you're in the industry, when you're just an unknown motherfucker, you think a bunch of people are just 'it.' Then, when you're actually in there, you realize that these people ain't shit, at all. I realized that the people that are actually doing shit are the ones with the closed mouths. The ones that aren't doing shit are the ones with the biggest mouths."
What's Next: "You can expect a shitload from me. I'm working on my project, God Bless America. We've got this A$AP Mob shit in the works right now. So, right after that, I'm dropping my shit."
Final Words: "Anybody can rock fashion these days, but it ain't all about the clothes. It's about the style. If you don't have any style, fuck your fashion."
Real Name: Jamel Phillips
From: "I was born in Harlem Hospital and lived on Skrilla Hill for a minute. That's 129th and Convent. Then 127th and Lenox, and in about '03, I moved to Castle Hill. That's one of the wildest sections of the Bronx."
Known For: "Trilla" on Live.Love.A$AP
How He Met A$AP Rocky: "I know Rocky through Yams. I've known Yams since '06. That was my homie. Then one day, it was like '08, I had a crib on Lenox and 139th and I had a little house party. Rocky came through, and that was the first time I was really introduced to him. It was like, 'Yo, this is Rocky. Y'all on the same team. So y'all got to get cool.' My first impression was that he was wild cool. He had hoes. He had the little perm and shit, so this little pretty motherfucker better have the hoes. As soon as I met him, he threw me a joint like, 'Here, this is for you.' It was love, unconditionally."
Role In A$AP: "I would consider myself the general. I hold it down. I network a lot. When it comes to business, I'll probably put your head on your shoulders like, 'Yeah. You should do this,' because I know that shit. I know that dollar."
Before The Fame: "Niggas would call me Mel or Two-Twelve. Two-Twelve is some Blood shit. That's how Blood members conversate. They two-twelve with each other. I grew up around a whole bunch of Bloods. I didn't want to be Blood, but I had wild love for them. I'd two-twelve with them, and it just caught on like, 'You're Two-Twelve. You speak for us to the people.'"
Since The Fame: "I see a lane now. I've got a lane. So I run with the good goon shit, because I'm a good nigga—but at the same time, I'm a bad nigga. I'm not going to body you, but I'm on some bold shit. If you rub me the wrong way, I'm really on some bold shit. I'm going to bring the same thing to the music. Y'all niggas is not rapping. I want niggas to rap again. So I'm going to rap my ass off."
On Fashion: "Before rap, I had a crazy sneaker game. When it comes to fashion, that's what I'm about. Bringing out certain kicks where niggas ask, 'Where the fuck you get those from?' I let my brothers do the Givenchy and all that shit. I'll probably do that one day, but besides that, I'm on my sneaker shit. I'll wear the same pair of RRL jeans every day, but I'll have a different pair of kicks."
What He's Learned: "Once you're popping, everybody wants to be your friend. I don't like niggas, because I know how funny they be. These motherfuckers are fake. They either try to get a picture with you or a handshake, so somebody else can see. Nah, I don't fuck with y'all if you're not A$AP or somebody that I was working with before. I don't fuck with people. I don't like these industry folk. I respect you, but I don't like you because I know what you're in it for. I'm in it for something else. I'm in it to get what I've got to say out, and that's it. I'm not asking you for any money, bro. I'm really not. I'm just asking you to hear me out."
What's Next: "I can do whatever. I can learn how to direct films, engineer, make clothes. The possibilities are endless. I like sneakers and shit. I could see myself working with Nike to put out my own kicks one day. I see myself having my own basketball team and street-ball tournament. Shit like that. I want to do shit that old-school hustlers used to do. Put your money into the hood, and it'll come back. You can help somebody else get a future. I can see myself grabbing the next little nigga from out the hood and putting him out there."
Final Words: "I'm a comedian and I've got the most popping Twitter. If you read my timeline, you'll be like, 'Yo, this kid right here is crazy.' I'm a Gemini. So you know Geminis are crazy. I've got the same birthday as Big L and Remy Martin. She's from Castle Hill, where I live now. So all that shit connects. It's weird."
Real Name: Adam Kirkman
From: "I was born in Baltimore, but I've got people in New York. I've been up and down the East Coast for most of my life."
Known For: His clothing line Marino, online releases like "Coke and White Bitches"
How He Met A$AP Rocky: “I met him through Yams. I've been known Yams, and I met Rocky two years ago at the 40 Oz Bounce. He was like, 'I fuck with the Marino shit.' So we used to talk through Facebook. He'd be like, 'Yo, I want some shirts. I want to support it. I want a way to get each other out there, and you do the same with me. We'll help each other out.' It was genuine respect and love.”
Role In A$AP: "A rapper still getting myself out there. I'm playing my position so when my time comes people know who I am."
Before The Fame: “I was always a popular, get fly, fuck all the bitches, know all the niggas dude during school. I used to sell weed. That shit is wack. Fuck all that. I'm trying to get money in a legal way.”
Since The Fame: "Meeting so many people that we're no longer starstruck: Juicy J, Dame Dash, Ski Beatz. It's been crazy. Shorties that weren't hitting me up are hitting my phone now like they miss me."
On Fashion: “I got some Dior jeans. I've got some Raf's, but I really don't look at brands. If I'm at the mall and I see some J. Crew jeans, those may be flyer than the $200 jeans I've got on right now. I always look at the quality of it, not the brand. That doesn't matter to me.”
On His Threat To Smack Tyler, The Creator: "I mean, it’s whatever, but not right now. Rocky was chilling with them, so it’s not beef right now. But I’m going to ask [Tyler] about it. I don’t know what will come of it, but if it happens, then it happens. I’m a real ass nigga. I’ll smack anybody. I’m not backing down from it, but that shit is dead now. I wouldn’t even bring it up, because they’re just niggas our age. Rocky is chilling out in Cali right now, he’s with like Jasper and Dolphin and them."
What He's Learned: "You've just got to slow down and know how to perfect your craft."
What's Next: "Look for Marino by the Spring. The fit is different. We stepped it up to some real high-scale shit. My mixtape is dropping by the end of the Spring, and I'll have some visuals drop soon for 'Coke And White Bitches.'"
Final Words: "I don't live a regular lifestyle. I just graduated high school last year. Everybody's in college and I'm just doing my life right now, trying to get it. I want to buy shit for my mom and all that. I'm tired of this regular-ass shit."