Earlier this year, ASAP Rocky blew our minds with the Internet smash "Purple Swag" and its undeniably charming video which featured weed smoke, gold fronts, and an adorable white girl mouthing the n-word. We were immediately sold on the 23-year-old rapper: He was effortlessly technical on the mic, had his own Houston-influenced sound, and the kind of swag that could only come from a young Harlem dude.
Just as soon as people were starting to catch on, ASAP followed up "Purple Swag" with a bigger smash, "Pe$o." The song was not only a viral hit but also managed to get radio play on Hot 97.
Since then, ASAP has scored a $3 million deal with RCA, gotten co-signs from everyone from Jim Jones to Drake, and was tapped by Drizzy to join the Club Paradise Tour. Today he drops his highly anticipated mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP (Download here) so what better time to find out Who Is ASAP Rocky?
We got down with ASAP to discuss his thoughts on white rappers, homophobia, and Lil B, the on-stage fight his crew got into at the Fader Fort, and why he considers himself "the flyest motherfucker on Earth."
Growing Up In Harlem
ASAP Rocky: “You know Harlem, it’s all about getting fly, dope boy shit, fucking all the hoes, who has the most bitches. That’s what it was all about. It was about being that nigga. You know what it means to be that nigga if you grew up in Harlem.
“It’s so weird because [I also grew up in the Bronx too], who can say that? I grew up in both. I actually hustled more in the Bronx than Harlem. I didn’t want people to know I was making as much money as I was making. I was always modest. I always thought, if you get a million dollars, live like a thousandaire. If you get a billion dollars, live like a millionaire.
“Always be smart because you’ve got to be practical. I just try to be frugal with shit. I’m not really frivolous. I value money and I value worth. There’s more money to get. Ain’t shit changed but the address.
“I was the dude with the fucking fly shit on but I used to be with only one or two people. That was ASAP Rell and my boy Rob Money. I was one of the niggas that was cool with all the niggas and knew all the bitches. I just wasn’t a people-person. I was pretty popular but I was different. Niggas knew I was weird, that I was odd.
“I hate just chilling in Harlem. I prefer to go downtown because it’s more versatile and diverse. People are more open-minded. You’ve got the gays over there, the fashion people over there, the skateboarders over there. That’s cool.”
ASAP Rocky: “When I used to sell what I sold, I did it in the Bronx near Webster. Harlem was my home but it’s too small to sell drugs. You’re going to get caught or somebody’s going to try to kill you or tell on you.
“That shit is scary. You don’t know if you’re going to get locked up, you don’t know who’s hating on you. That shit is not legal. Pimping died in the fucking ‘80s, hustling died like five years ago. When Big Meech and everybody got indicted, hustling died. Keep it trill.
“You might find guys here and there that get what they get, but it ain’t like how it used to be. It’s corny man. You’ve got haters, you’ve got police, and they’re both on the same team. Their whole mission is to take you out. The shit is wack.
“I don’t want to spend my time worrying about how much I’m going to get. You have a good day this day, a bad day that day. Fuck that. I think that shit is corny. ‘Oh, I hustle. I sell drugs,’ that shit is corny. Who gives a fuck? Become a doctor, become a lawyer, do something constructive.
“Not that I’m positive in everything I do, but at least I’m not killing anybody. I’ve never been a killer. I’ve never been a tough guy or anything like that. I’m not even a fighter, believe it or not. I’m just one of those guys who defends mine. I stand on my own two, like any man should. If you fuck with me, you get fucked up. At the same time, I’m not looking for trouble.
Learning To Rap
ASAP Rocky: “I was eight [when I started rapping]. When I found myself, I was probably 20. At 20, I knew I didn’t want to sound like the rest. I knew it sounded different. It was more natural. I wasn’t saying, ‘I’m going to try to sound different.’ It was just natural. Usually, when I was rapping, I was like, ‘This has to be like this.’ Now, I freely rap and it just comes out crazy.
“‘Purple Swag’ is really self explanatory. ‘Purple drink, I still sip/Purple weed, blunt still lit/Real nigga/Real bitch/Purple swag, that trill shit.’ It’s just showing you that everybody can fuck with that shit. Niggas, bitches, we all can fuck with that shit. Then I just started spitting some Houston shit, ‘The candy cars/I’m coming down/That paint drip/I still tip/That pimp shit/She ain’t plan to fuck, I still hit/That’s swag, bitch.’ [Laughs.]
“Any nigga can say that shit. How many dates have you been on, where you’re like, ‘Man, I don’t even know if I’m going to fuck this bitch. I want to fuck her so bad.’ At the end of the night, it’s like, ‘I fucked that bitch. I feel so good about myself. That’s swag, bitch.’ You can’t say I’m selling anybody a lie. I’m just keeping it real, that’s all. Got to keep it trill.”
ASAP Rocky: “I grew up listening to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, DMX, UGK, Three 6 Mafia, Wu-Tang Clan, everybody. My mom and dad, they came to an agreement and they both named me after Rakim. Honestly, I can’t even meet that guy, man. That would be so crazy. I was thinking about naming my child Kanye. [Laughs.]
“I’m just really influenced by Houston’s culture. That’s the shit that really gets me going. Houston all the way. I never been there but I just love the culture. I’m quite sure Wu-Tang had never been to China before, but they were influenced [by Chinese culture] and you couldn’t tell them that they weren’t.
“[The Houston sound] is so attractive. It’s melodic, so it attracted me. I’m influenced by purple drink. I don’t give a fuck. I’ll sip it, so what? I think we all should sip it. Modern-day hipster shit. When it comes to Houston, I’m really attracted to the culture. Swanging, tipping, leaning, all that. That shit is dope.”
ASAP Rocky: “When you’re wearing skinny jeans in 2005, somebody is going to say something about it. You’re not just going to get away with that shit. We were wearing skinny jeans when you had to go get them done at a tailor because they weren’t even sold like that. I used to have to get shit from Europe just to have it fit right.
“I was wearing fucking Chip & Pepper and Rock And Republic in ‘04. True Religion was ‘04, I used to wear Von Dutch and Ed Hardy, Gucci, Louis, Ferragamo. Roberto Cavalli. In ‘05, there was this brand called John Richmond—that was the shit. Cam used to wear that shit a lot.
“I used [to go to] Apollo Signature [in Harlem]. [The whole store] was such a small room but they sold extravagant shit. Like, ‘This is in such a shitty place, why do you have a mink in the window?’ They just sold extravagant shit.
“I swear I’m the flyest motherfucker on Earth. [Laughs.] I be gassing myself but I’m into fashion. Like now, this is a regular fucking day. I’ve had this shit on for two days already. I keep it trill. I haven’t even gone home, I’ve been working so hard. I got on Marc Jacobs shoes, no monogram on them, no signature, Acne jeans, Alexander Wang, Blvck Scvle. I’m a fly motherfucker man. [Laughs.] I should be a comedian.”
The ASAP Crew
ASAP Rocky: “This shit is just mad people. Like ASAP Dom, he’s the one on MediaTakeOut right now with the black fingernail polish. There’s Spaceghostpurp. Then there’s ASAP Marino, he designs Marino Tees. ASAP Bari, he does these jeans called Toast To The God, they’ve got rips in them and they’re wavy as fuck.
“ASAP Yams, that’s the one with the birthmark. ASAP Ty Beats [is a producer who did ‘Purple Swag’ and ‘Pe$o’]. ASAP Nast, ASAP Bird, ASAP Twelvy.
“You’ve got to really address them by ASAP too. They’ll tell you, ‘My name is ASAP Dom, not Dom.’ I’m the only one that’ll let somebody call me Rocky. When you see one of them, just call them ASAP and they’ll respond. We’ve all got the same name. It’s like Junior.”
Signing To RCA
ASAP Rocky: “I knew that they would give me exactly what I wanted. I wanted my own label. I wanted money for my own label. I wanted my own solo deal. I wanted money money for my own solo deal. I wanted some type of support and insurance for everything.
“Not only that, I wanted people who cared. I met a lot of people and all I could see was dollar signs in their eyes. When you look in their eyes and you see dollar signs, you say, ‘Okay, these people could care less if this ship sinks or rises, as long as they make a dollar.’
“When I got to RCA and I met with Peter Edge, they gave me my own label. I just signed my first three artists.
“Who would say no to a $3 million deal? [Laughs.] I don’t know too many people. $1.7 million for your solo deal? I said, ‘As long as I get more than Kreayshawn, I’ll do it.’ And she’s a girl. It was $1.3 million for the ASAP Worldwide. So I’m happy.”
His Relationship With Drake
ASAP Rocky: “Drake threw ‘Purple Swag’ up on his blog. So he had been knowin' about me. He did his research and was inspired and was like, ‘Yo, you really are dope.’ Drake reached out through a mutual friend, Chase N. Cashe from Surf Club.
“After that, he was like, ‘Yo, when it came to [Take Care], I got inspired to do my album a certain way because of you and The Weeknd.’ I respect him because not only is he saying, ‘I got inspired by this guy,’ but he’s saying, ‘I’m in a better position than this guy, so I’m going to help him out.’ So I’m just grateful for that. That’s what’s up. They call him corny but it is what it is. I’d smack the shit out of somebody for Drake.
“I’m going to be real, my following is small. For it to be this small, I get a lot of love. I’m kind of afraid for when it gets big because that’s when everybody who used to love you is going to hate you. It is what it is.”
Club Paradise Tour
ASAP Rocky: “I just want to go on this tour to have fun. I heard stories about how shit happens on tours, and after this experience [at the Fader Fort], I’m just being more cautious about shit. I can’t do certain shit anymore. I’m fine with that.
“Fucking bitches is my favorite thing to do. The groupie love is so good right now. Have you ever had the bitch of your dreams just do the most dirtiest shit to you? I met a few of them! [Laughs.] It’s like, ‘Wow. I need to make more records.’ I can only imagine what Chris Brown and niggas like Lil Wayne get.”
ASAP Rocky: “This Odd Future shit, I’m not looking for trouble with those kids man. They don’t want it with me. That’s all jokes aside. I’m just being honest. I’m not playing with nobody, I’m trying to keep the peace. I feel like, if me and Spaceghost came together and made an ill-ass team, imagine what me, Tyler, and all them niggas would do.
“I didn’t hear Hodgy; I don’t know him personally. When I see him, I’m going to ask him what that’s about. Based on his response, we’ll see where it goes from there. I don’t want any problems. I don’t want to smack nobody. I don’t want to get sued. I don’t want none of that shit. But shit happens, you know what I mean?
“I’m quick to flip out but I’m about peace, man. I’m not a gangster, I’m telling you. I’m not a tough guy. We just have fun. I’m wild sometimes, but most of the time I’m just chilling, smoking weed and shit.”
ASAP Rocky: “I’m not concerned with fame right now. I would rather be more appreciated than famous. Appreciate me for my work. That shit is going to come. If I go on Twitter and I search my name, it’s one thing for someone to say, ‘I know ASAP Rocky.’ It’s another thing for someone to say, ‘ASAP Rocky is the shit.’ I love when people say they love my work because I really do work hard.
“It’s not easy. People think that shit is easy. You could be somewhere getting a blowjob. We could all be doing something better. This ain’t easy, but this is what we signed up for. This is what we enjoy.
"I look at it like, when your microphones are off, when the recorders are off, when the cameras are away, I’m still going to be a person that you guys can call, like, ‘Yo Rocky, if you’re in the city, let's hang out some time.’ I’m really that nigga. That’s what I do.
“I could tell you about myself as much as I want to, but you would never know anything about me until you get to chill with me. I would prefer you chill with me so you can say, ‘I fuck with him,’ and for us to have a friendship. I like friends. Who doesn’t like friends? I feel bad for people who don’t have friends.
“Imagine that bored kid in the suburbs, he lives in West Bubblefuck where there’s nothing but grass. He’s bored as fuck and on the Internet bashing people. Then you have that other kid, who has a lot of friends that care about him, and he cares about people. I think it’s all about caring, man. Maybe that’s my weakness. I don’t give a fuck—I care about people man. Fuck all that other shit.
“The way I grew up, and the way we think, is weird as fuck. I’m going to keep it real with you what’s stopping us from smoking a doobie and fucking some bitches together? What’s stopping us from crying on each others shoulders? What’s stopping us from really sitting down and realizing that we have the same fucking problems?”
The On Stage Fight At The Fader Fort
ASAP Rocky: “My attorney told me I can’t even speak on this shit right now. I will say, I love Fader. They helped make me. Those are good people. I feel like Fader still fucks with me. It’s just unfortunate circumstances. I’m a strong person. I’m a good guy. I’m going to get through this. Whatever happens, happens. I’m not going to stop inspiring people. I want people to know that they can do what they want to do."
ASAP Rocky: “I try to make it a point that it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, or fucking yellow. Fuck that shit. Just start accepting people for people. I’d smack the shit out of somebody for Mac Miller. That’s my homie right there. That’s my nigga. He’s really a genuine dude. Aside from this music shit, I know him on a personal level.
“We don’t even try to make our friendship public because it’s not for the look. His crew and my crew are close. They come out to New York and they’re with us. That’s my nigga and I fuck with Mac hardbody.
“People are always popping shit about Mac and that shit gets me upset. I know him on a personal level so I know what he’s not trying to do, what he does, and what the media portrays. So it’s just fucked up.
“Everything is against him. First off, he’s from fucking Pittsburgh. Who the fuck is from there but Wiz? That’s not a popular place. He’s white so they’re using that against him. As soon as you’re white, they automatically say Eminem. He sounds nothing like Eminem.
“It’s like Asher Roth—Asher Roth doesn’t get enough credit. Asher Roth is underrated. Asher Roth is one of the greatest inspirations to my career. I’ve been listening to Asher Roth since before Sleeping In The Bread Aisle even dropped. I fuck with Asher.
“Machine Gun Kelly and I just recently spoke and he has it hard too. I feel like because these niggas are white they don’t get the fair opportunity that any other motherfucker would get.”
On Homophobia & Lil B
ASAP Rocky: “I’m so comfortable with my sexuality that if someone’s gay, that’s their business. People are people—I enjoy people. Of course I’m not gay. I’m heterosexual. At the same time, I don’t really give a fuck about anybody’s sexual preference as long as you respect mine. Every designer I have on is gay. I love it and I don’t give a fuck.
“I used to be fucking homophobic. That shit is ignorant. You will lose a lot of time and friendship being homophobic. That’s being racist but in a sexual way. It’s like being sexually racist. [Laughs.]
“That’s not cool, bro. I’m going to say it again. I’m comfortable in my sexuality and I’m far from gay but people need to be more equal. People are biased. Like, why the fuck are you discriminating against rappers because of this or that?
“Don’t get it twisted: I don’t fuck with Lil B or that 'I’m Gay' shit. But as a kid, as a person, I probably would fuck with him. I’m not getting on the record about him anymore. I like the, ‘Woop! Woop!’ but I can’t.
“He wears my grandmother's earrings. [Laughs.] I’m just being serious. It’s not going down. I mean, I can’t talk but this nigga be wilding. The nigga said, 'I’m Gay' and [in parenthesis put], I’m happy. Come on, Brandon. What are you doing? That’s all I can say.”
ASAP Rocky: “I’m getting back into the studio. I’m directing more videos. I’m having fun. I’m staying away from bitches. I’m staying away from negativity. I’m just really trying to have fun and enjoy this shit. When you start noticing that everyone around you is having more fun than you, something is wrong with that picture. You’ve got to enjoy this shit.
“I’m a good fucking kid, so God is going to bless me. He’s blessed me thus far. Good people do win. Good people, not just people who are scared they’re losing something so they want to be positive. I’ve been the same person. I’m really loyal. I’m a people person. I love people to death.”
"A few months ago, I was just making music for fun and making videos for fun. Nobody really gave a fuck. Now it’s a big deal. They appointed me to bring hip-hop back and all that shit. I’m not saying that’s what I’m going to do. I’m just saying that when it comes to hip-hop, I’m going to do me.
"My crew, we’re going to do us. That’s really it. That’s how it goes. I’m not really concerned about being the guy who proclaimed to bring hip-hop back. Fuck all that shit. I just want to have fun.”
His Mixtape, Live.Love.A$AP
ASAP Rocky: “It’s what you’ve all been waiting for. When that shit drops, the feeling you get from listening to the first track, the proof is in the pudding. When the tape drops, it’s going to justify what I’ve been trying to say this whole time. People can get off the stage of, ‘Do I like him or do I not?’ When this tape drops, it’s going to be like, ‘Okay, I fuck with him,’ or ‘Okay, I don’t.’ That’s cool with me. Let’s get it.”
Dreams of A New York City Woodstock
ASAP Rocky: “I’m telling you man, if we bring that hippie shit back, this world would be a better place. I’m not saying, ‘Let's do acid.’ I’m just saying let's smoke some weed and fuck some bad bitches in the grass naked. Who’s with me on that? I swear to God, I’m going to make a New York Woodstock next summer.
“We’re going to do it in Central Park. It’s going to be like 4/20, except instead of throwing weed down from the helicopters, they’re going to throw down condoms and shit. [Laughs.]
"We’re going to have live music playing and people on all types of drugs—fuck it. What’s the problem? I think that would make New York a better place. I swear to God we gonna do that shit. I’m so serious. I’m gonna do. Watch me do it.”