ASAP Rocky is “moving to the beat of his own drum,” and in his latest single and commercial directorial debut, it just so happens to be powered By Dre.
This morning, July 20, ASAP Rocky partnered with Beats to unveil the latest iteration of its Beats Studio Pro (available now) and his new Pharrell-produced single “RIOT (Rowdy Pipe’n)” in their new “Iconic Sound” commercial that he directed. The visuals for the commercial mirror the fast-paced, disruptive energy of the song, and give viewers a glimpse into the new work-life balance that Rocky has been perfecting since he and Rihanna welcomed their baby boy, RZA. “Iconic Sound” follows Rocky embarking on the perilous quest to retrieve more “AWGEY’s” diapers for baby RZA so he can get back into the studio, with glimpses of bodegas and barbershops flashing across the screen as he sprints through the streets in Timberlands like a Harlem-bred Usain Bolt.
“[Beats] is a heritage brand at this point,” Rocky tells Complex over the phone. “And I think that they really advocated to have me display my different talents. They also showed love and made sure that the [new] music was in video; they were just open to the ideas that I wanted to do. And I think that's what made them a great partner, for just allowing me to really take the wheel.”
The rapper has been busy since the release of his last album, Testing, in 2018. Between headlining several festivals, becoming a father, and opening a design studio, Rocky has meticulously tinkered at his next full-length offering. “RIOT (Rowdy Pipe’n)” is just the latest of several tracks, including “Same Problems,” “Shittin’ Me,” and “D.M.B.,” which will reportedly be on his upcoming album.
Rocky announced last year during Amazon Music’s live concert series that his fourth studio album will be titled Don’t Be Dumb, and “DBD” Easter eggs littered throughout the commercial support this. Now, the Harlem rapper reveals that the project will tout impressive production credits from the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Madlib, Hit-Boy, Boi1da, Alchemist, Metro Boomin, Mike Dean, and several others. This latest single also features a bar teasing a collaboration between Rocky and Rihanna. “Collab with my baby mom,” he raps.
“I'm always down to collab with my partner,” he tells Complex. “She's a phenomenal creative. Yeah, there’s a lot of things we’re going to collaborate on, from products for children, there’s a lot of things to look forward to.”
A collaborator that Rocky confirms will be on the album is rising Latin star Peso Pluma. The two artists were seen together recently, and Rocky confirmed the speculation that they were working together on new music.
“I fuck with him,” Rocky elaborates. “I love the fact that he’s successful right now, he’s doing his thing all over Spotify and Apple and whatnot. And he’s going crazy overseas, especially in Mexico, doing his thing. But I genuinely like him because he is of the culture. He told me a crazy story. He was just like, ‘Yo, I remember I used to work at this pizzeria at this restaurant downtown in Little Italy. I remember just taking the train and listening to ‘1 Train’ and ‘Peso’… So for me, it felt like the right thing to do,” he explains on the feature.
As Rocky continues to battle the leakers that are pushing back his album’s release, his latest Beats commercial illustrates how he plans to do it all his way. We caught up with AWGE head honcho to talk about directing the latest Beats commercial, his new single “RIOT (Rowdy Pipe’n),” his upcoming album, and more.
Why was Beats the perfect partner not only for your commercial directorial debut, but also to reveal this new music?
Beats is a heritage brand at this point. And I think that they really advocated to have me display my different talents. They also showed love and made sure that the [new] music was in video, they were just open to the ideas that I wanted to do. And I think that's what made them a great partner, for just allowing me to really take the wheel.
What was the difference between directing a commercial for the first time and handling the creative direction of your music videos?
It really wasn't a different process. It was just a different experience, and each job or each project that I've worked on, it seemed like all of them had different experiences. I had different experiences with each of them, but what stood out about this commercial more than previous commercials was that this time it was like, a lot of the responsibility of the edits and After Effects and all of that, you really got to be on point. It's a little different when you're dealing with a corporation as opposed to just your people in your label and your music buddies. You got to be more verbal about what you're doing and break it down to a T. But other than that, shit was cool. Shit was wavy, I had a good time.
All of the Easter eggs in the video were dope as well, like the DBD (Don’t Be Dumb) Hotel and the abstract Testing logo art on your apartment wall. Were there any other album Easter eggs you hid in there?
I think it is beautiful that you even notice how I meticulously placed these things in this commercial. But yeah that’s really it. Just the Don’t Be Dumb Hotel, that’s an Easter egg, and just the death of the dummies is my new vibe.
When did you record “RIOT (Rowdy Pipe’n)?”
I recorded it probably a year ago and a half ago with Pharrell in Miami. It was fire. I came down to visit him. Chad [Hugo] from [The] Neptune was there. The vibes were good, the studio had a lot of good feng shui and good vibrations. ASAP Ferg actually surprised me and came down to a session because he and P was working on something separately. And the energy behind that was just like right away. I knew Pharrell was feeling it, I was filming it. I connected with it. When I heard the beat, it just sounded disruptive. That's kind of what I wanted to do, is make a disruptive record.
“I'm always down to collab with my partner, man. She's a phenomenal creative."
I know that you and Metro Boomin have been working closely together on this upcoming album, but this song is produced by Pharrell. Are there any other surprise producers on the project?
Absolutely, we got Pharrell Williams, we got Dean Blunt, we got Metro Boomin. I don't want to leave people out. We got Hitkidd, we got Tyler, the Creator, myself, Madlib, The Alchemist. We also got Mike Dean, Swedish House Mafia, and I don’t want to give too much away.
In the track you say, “New collab with my baby mom,” and the commercial has RZA diapers and a little cameo of Rihanna’s voice in the beginning. Can fans expect to hear you and Rih on some tracks on the upcoming album?
I'm always down to collab with my partner, man. She's a phenomenal creative. Yeah, there’s a lot of things we’re going to collaborate on, from products for children, there’s a lot of things to look forward to.
The commercial opens with you getting diapers for RZA. You tend to go viral for being a super supportive partner and father. What's it like being the internet’s father of the year right now with how you support Rihanna and the family?
It's honestly about being true to yourself and me being true to me. The prior Flacko is just females, lean, and weed and no-good niggas and women around all day. That was 10 years ago. I think now that my reality is more so I have a little mystique to me, I really don’t like to be on Front Street all day. I'm really just cooling with my lady and my little man and all that, that’s just it. Other than that, I’m with the creatives at AWGE and a few friends and I call it a day. That’s simplicity for me.
You said you were wrapping up the album in May of last year, and that you were “still wrapping up” in December. Any status update?
They gotta stop leaking it! These dummies got to stop leaking shit. Every time, we have to go back to the drawing board, but right now I think it’s in a place where we tightened it up and we really can’t make or break anything right now. We in album mode, it’s time to start rolling out the project. This is just a single for the project. This is really happening.
"We in album mode, it’s time to start rolling out the project. This is just a single for the project. This is really happening."
I saw you were with Peso Pluma recently. Were you two working on something for his album or yours?
Yeah, we were working on something for my album. I fuck with him. I love the fact that he’s successful right now, he’s doing his thing all over Spotify and Apple and whatnot. And he’s going crazy overseas, especially in Mexico, doing his thing. But I genuinely like him because he is of the culture. He told me a crazy story. He was just like, “Yo, I remember I used to work at this pizzeria at this restaurant downtown in Little Italy. I remember just taking the train and listening to ‘1 Train’ and ‘Peso.’” I was like, “Yo, you fucking me up.” He said, “I lived in New York when you popped off.” So for me, it felt like the right thing to do. I’m not really one to just collaborate with somebody because they’re poppin’. I would prefer for there to be some significance there, and I personally like him. I love his music and I think it’s different. I think that's something that I want to sonically explore. That's why we collabed.
I was just revisiting “1 Train” this week when I was looking back at Hit-Boy’s classics. You guys really got one with that.
I’m glad you appreciated that, man. That was a crazy time. Hit-Boy’s on [the album] too, man. Hit-Boy and Boi1da are on there, that’s all I’ll say.
We put your unreleased song with Playboi Carti, “Our Destiny,” on our Best Songs of 2022 list. Will that track ever get an official release?
It’s the leaks. They just kept leaking it, so we just said “fuck it” and put it out [on Instagram]. It's the same thing with the "Taylor Swift” song and video. They leaked that shit and it wasn't even finished. I'm a perfectionist, and I don't care, I move to the beat of my own drum. If they leak something and we have to go back to the drawing board, however long it takes is how long it takes. But we’re on a good roll right now. Fingers crossed nothing gets leaked anytime soon. I'm praying that we have a successful rollout and it turns out OK.