Meet The A$AP Mob: Talking To Ant, Ferg, J. Scott, Nast, Twelvy, And Yams
No city in the world can assemble a musical motley crew of disorderly young gents like New York, although simply forming a quartet isn't enough. Wu Tang Clan, Boot Camp Clik, The Diplomatswe're talking wolf pack numbers.
The A$AP Mob's A$AP Rocky has been getting worldwide attention this year, directing a handful of videos, living the presidential life with Lana Del Rey, and releasing music. His official debut LongLiveASAP, comes out in the fall. In the meantime, though, the rest of the A$AP MobYams, J. Scott, Fergy, Twelvy, Ant, and Nasthave been working on their own music, and today their collaborative project Lords Never Worry is out.
Each member of the crew has a visionand the hunger to realize itthat promises to make the A$AP brand a dynasty, and not just a one-man show. In a rap world where too many rap crews are made up of one frontman and scores of talentless hanger-ons, it's reassuring to see so much talent in one collective.
Ferg has perhaps the most polished songs; J. Scott is a quiet yet active officer, with more side projects than perhaps any other member. Original ASAP member Twelvy has a rep as a wild boy but a good head for business, as does Yams. Ant and Nast are bonkers on the mic, each with a distinct, dark style. SOTC took some time to examine the individuals who make up the nefarious A$AP Mob.
Q&A: A$AP Yams
Since the A$AP phenomenon began there have been comments and questions about the short, husky Puerto Rican kid with cornrows and a big purple birthmark on his face. He never touches the mic in any video (though he did sing and talk shit on "Thugged Out") and his name isn't credited on any of the beats. What does he do? Why does he get to ride shotgun in a convertible with Rocky around Paris while wearing furs and gold? Read on to see why much of the A$AP movement's success can be credited to Yams.
What's up Yams? You're credited with starting A$AP. Tell us about that.
Really me, A$AP Bari and A$AP Illz started A$AP. Me and Rocky own A$AP Worldwide. The label was salivating to sign a young, popping New York rapper so we were able to negotiate a label deal for ourselves, A$AP Worldwide.
Let's backtrack a bit. Are you from Harlem too?
Yeah. I'm from Morningside Heights and Washington Heights. I'm half Dominican, so I keep in touch with my Washington Heights side heavy. That's just upper Harlem anyway. Morningside was a trip because you had Columbia University on Broadway but one block over [Amsterdam] all types of hood shit was going on.
You don't really work on the music side of things much so what's your role within A$AP?
Nah, I help with the music. I handpicked the beats for Rocky to rhyme to. I'm like an A&R/executive producer type so I'm definitely giving my input on the sound we're trying to develop.
That's a lot for a young kid such as yourself to be handling. How'd you learn about the music biz?
I used to intern for Jim Jones and Duke Da God at Asylum Records. Before that though I was just watching and doing a lot of observing. Dudes like Irv Gotti, J. Prince, Dee and Wah (Ruff Ryders), Tony Draper... I took their positive aspects and analyzed their fuckups and applied it to my game. Not to take anything away from any of them dudes. They're geniuses.
So how'd you meet Rocky?
I met him through Bari. Bari and me were hanging out a lot around this time and I had been online flexing with Max B.'s chains trying to recruit people for this A$AP shit. Then Bari told me he had some kid who was really rapping for months but I kept putting it to the side. Then I got to meet him and hear him and I was like "This motherfucker's crazy!" A few months later he called me from school in Alabama and told me he was coming back up to work on music.
What was the initial reception to A$AP Rocky?
At first "Purple Swag" had people saying he sounded like he was from Houston and criticizing us. We didn't let us deter our vision though. We knew once "Peso" hit it would show that NYC culture. We had 30 young dudes on the corner shooting dice with 40s and Timbs, shots of Harlem. It was our New York.
What do you think about people saying Rocky sounds too Southern?
First of all, Rocky is New York rap. He's what a 20something-year-old kid from Harlem sounds like. New York[ers have] just been in the club too long, so they don't know what the young kids on the street sound like. We grew up listening to No Limit as much as Ruff Ryders, so that influence is going to come across in the music. To me we're the best generation because we were old enough to hear the late-'90s rap and be influenced by it but we're still young. I remember It Was Written. That shit influenced me. The whole Bad Boy era of the late '90s, Life After Death and No Way Out, that era influenced me greatly. Rocky and them are on some high-fashion shit, but I just keep it late '90s.
If you were had to pick a member of Wu-Tang that represents your role within A$AP who would it be?
Well, RZA because of how he's got the actual name "Wu-Tang." Aside from that, though, I would have to say Raekwon. I say that more from his style because I don't really rap. But his style was just always cutting edge and fresh to me. Kids still look to his old videos for fashion inspiration.