TSS Presents Smoking Sessions With A$AP Rocky

When you’re 23 and have turned a budding, underground rap career into a deal fit for Forbes, the intrigue is assumed. Yet, when it comes to Harlem’s ultra-hyped A$AP Rocky, the lure lies beneath the headlines. Think, for one minute, you had just seen your wildest dreams come to fruition. Now, imagine how you would handle yourself, as the opinions and expectations of others’ flooded in about the new found position of power, before you even had time unveil your motives. Would you maintain your momentum and stand behind your game plan? Or, would you buckle under the pressure and succumb to your surroundings?

Fresh off the release of his LiveLoveA$AP project and a tour with two of hip-hop’s most talked-about names, the new face of New York lets TSS Crew’s BEWARE pick the brain behind his brand, in search of A$AP’s answers to the questions above. If you were impressed by his momentum before, wait until you understand the mind behind the movement and motivation needed to ensure his success sees the next level.

Graphics: Talia | Photo Credit: Scott Ranniar

TSS: How they treating Harlem out in Cali?

A$AP Rocky: I f*ckin’ love it, man. I’m having the time of my life, movin’ out here.

TSS: I knew that was the answer coming. Glad to hear it.

TSS: You just wrapped up the Club Paradise tour with Drake and Kendrick Lamar two nights ago. How did the tour live up to the expectations you had going in?

A$AP Rocky: I mean…the tour was just like…seeing it in person was something out of my wildest dreams. I didn’t expect any of it. It was a big learning experience for me. I’m having fun, but at the same time I’m learning, learning how to have a better stage performance, stage presence and sh*t like that. It’s just a big learning experience that, you know, you couldn’t buy (laughs). It’s something that you gotta’ go through. So, I’m lovin’ it. And, at the same time, me and Kendrick vibe really hard. As well as me and Drake. So, I feel like I’m a family.

TSS: That’s excellent, especially from a fan’s perspective.

TSS: This was your first, out-of-state tour, right?

A$AP Rocky: Yeah, this is my first tour.

TSS: Oh, your first tour, period. Well, kudos to you on that.

A$AP Rocky: Thank you, man.

TSS: How did you adapt to performing in front of 10 times more people?

A$AP Rocky: Well, I’m so f*ckin’ cocky, that type of sh*t don’t faze me. It is what it is. None of that sh*t matters to me.

TSS: Well…stick with that personality, it’ll take you far.

A$AP Rocky: Yup.

A$AP Rocky: Hey, hold on one second, sir.

TSS: No problem.

(A$AP Rocky then sets down the phone and begins conversation with an unknown female.)

A$AP Rocky: Hey, I don’t mean to bother you while you’re on the job, but are you in a rush?

Ineligible answer from female.

A$AP Rocky: I’m only in town for another night and I thought you were pretty…

Ineligible answer from female, followed by another 20 seconds of conversation.

A$AP Rocky: …Alright, thanks. I’m gonna’ hit you in a little bit.

(A$AP Rocky: picks back up the phone)

A$AP Rocky: Hello?

TSS: You good?

A$AP Rocky: Yes. That girl was looking really, really good. (Laughs) Now, what were you saying, bro?

TSS: (Laughs) Well, basically, I was just getting at the fact you had six different shows, it was your first tour, you’re under the spotlight with these guys. What was the most significant moment of the whole tour for you?

A$AP Rocky: The moment? I’m gonna’ have to say, one time when I came out and motherf*ckers ran to the barricades. Then, they sang along to all my lyrics and were buggin’ out. That was the best moment for me. Is that what you meant?

TSS: Underneath that question, in parenthesis, I have written, “moment of accomplishment,” for clarification purposes. I think you nailed it.

A$AP Rocky: Yeah, man. It was crazy.

TSS: I can imagine. Here’s one for you: who’s more talented, Kendrick or Drake?

A$AP Rocky: Oh shit! (Laughs) You know, it’s like, I don’t think either or is beating out each other. It’s just like they both have two different styles, and that’s not just me trying to sound politically correct, or being fair. That’s my honest opinion. I feel like they both have two different styles, and both of them, they raw. Both of them are raw.

TSS: That’s pretty much the answer I would’ve said, if someone asked me that. But, I was just being a dick and asking anyways.

A$AP Rocky: (Laughs) It’s cool. It’s cool. I like different questions like that. I like challenges.

TSS: I know you do. You wouldn’t be here talking to me, if you didn’t.

A$AP Rocky: (Laughs)

TSS: Beyond just the tour, blog love and YouTube endorsements, Drake’s basically put a platinum cosign on you….without really having any vested interest. That says a lot, and you know it. In today’s industry, how important was his co-sign?

A$AP Rocky: Honestly, yo… because it’s happening to me, you know what I mean, it’s gonna’ sound like I’m grateful only because it’s happening to me, but…if it wasn’t happening to me, I would respect Drake so much for something like that. I mean, yo, he doesn’t have to do that. And, it’s not like he’s saying, ‘yo, dude is hot, check him out.’ He’s like, ‘Yo, there’s this dude I’ve been listening to, that I’m inspired by and I love what he does.’ And, he just wants the world to see. Like, I really appreciate that guy for that, yo. He’s a great guy, man.

TSS: You know what, I’ve seen the interviews and you can tell it’s just mutual respect, which is in turn, obviously mutually beneficial.

A$AP Rocky: Yup, it’s really genuine with him.

TSS: Do you feel that, in general, a co-sign is important these days?

A$AP Rocky: Um…naw.

TSS: No

A$AP Rocky: I don’t care for ‘em. I guess they are important, depending on your situation.

A$AP Rocky: As far as me, when I came in, I wasn’t looking for no co-signs. I wanted to do everything on my own, just so I could say, “I did it on my own.”

TSS: And, until the co-signs came knocking, I’d say you did that pretty successfully.

A$AP Rocky: Thank you.

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Photo Credit: Bill Niels

TSS: On “Out Of This World,” you spit the line….“Could’ve been J Cole, if I met J Hov.” Do you feel that, with Jay’s stamp of approval, you could have sold 217,000 copies of LiveLoveASAP in the first week, like Cole did with Sideline Story?

A$AP Rocky: Of course.

TSS: What makes you so confident?

A$AP Rocky: I feel like, with the sh*t that I’m making, at the end of the day, if someone was behind me like Jay-Z, the movement would’ve been 10x or 100x bigger than it was. Can’t you agree?

TSS: Definitely. I think it goes back to what we were talking about with Drake, about plugging yourself into a role. It’s all relative, until it actually happens and pops off. If you could’ve or would’ve gotten plugged into that situation with Jay, you never know what might’ve happened.

TSS: But, then, I guess that poses the question, do you feel you could have exceeded that figure? If you were put into that same situation, would 217,000 been a success, or would you have tried to shoot past it?

A$AP Rocky: I mean, personally, I’ve never sold any kind of music a day in my life. So, I can’t take or discredit anything from J. Cole, because I would hope to God that I would sell or be fortunate enough to sell as much as J. Cole did. Because, J. Cole’s a great f*cking artist and every unit he moved, he deserved it. I don’t know what I’d be capable of doing, because as of right now, I’m still wet behind the ears. I’m really a beginner, on an upscale, mainstream approach, if you get what I’m saying. All of this is new to me. I wasn’t underground for more than a year, before I blew up. I was underground for like three months.

TSS: You gettin’ sunburned from the spotlight.

A$AP Rocky: You feel me? I didn’t get to do what everybody else did. So, everything was like premature for me. It came really quick. So, I don’t know how much I’d sell. Right now, LiveLoveA$AP was just an introduction, to show people, you either like me or you don’t. And the review and feedback I’ve been getting is really good, up until this point. Considering the fact it’s such strange music.

TSS: In regards to that come up, I want to bring up a quote from the new issue of XXL, with 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather on the front. It looks like it’s 50, who says, ‘Name a rapper who blew up in shorter period of time.’

TSS: Now, since the full story isn’t out yet, the context of the quote is unknown. But, it poses the question: what can you learn from the career of a fellow New Yorker like Fifty, someone who rose so quickly and achieved so much?

A$AP Rocky: Who knows. But, 50, man, I really respect him and honestly, hope to be as successful as he is. I just want longevity and I hope that my brand lasts. Because most of the time, people get tired and they want the new thing. I want to stay relevant, just like every artist wishes they could. So, as far as 50, he’s a smart businessman, a smart guy and a great rapper, so I hope to achieve the same type of goals.

TSS: Going back the quote and fact that the ‘who blew up quicker’ debate was even brought up, Do you feel other MCs are intimidated by you and the rapid success your crew is seeing?

A$AP Rocky: Me and 50?

TSS: No, I don’t mean anybody specific. But, it just seems that these days, with acts like you, Lil B and Odd Future seeing success so quickly, other acts who’ve been established longer could be intimidated by your quick rise. So, again, do you feel other MCs are intimidated by you and the rapid success your crew is seeing?

A$AP Rocky:
Personally, I’m not even paying attention to other MCs. At the end of the day, I don’t know what their situation is, or how anyone else is feeling at this point.

TSS: Do you care?

A$AP Rocky: No. I don’t care if somebody’s intimidated by me. I mean, I’m here to do what I came to do.

(A$AP Rocky stops interview to answer associate, who just arrived. “Yo, I bagged her. The hotel lady.” Associate laughs and responds, “Oh word?”)

A$AP Rocky: Yo, you there? Yeah, my bad, I got asked a question.

TSS: No worries man. What I was basically saying was that you seem very passive. I did a lot of research before this interview, and your overall goal appears to be just seeing success for your family and loved ones, without causing problems with anyone along the way. But, it brings up the question, are you a competitive person?

A$AP Rocky: Basically. That’s it. That sums it all up. I just do what I do and I have fun.

TSS: Who do you compete with?

A$AP Rocky: Who do I compete with?

TSS: Correct.

A$AP Rocky: Other A$AP members. That’s about it. I compete with A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast and A$AP Twelvy. That’s my competition. Other than that, I’m not worried about the rest. My goal is not to be better than anybody, you know what I mean? Because, it is what it is, if somebody feels that way, but that’s just not my motive. My whole thing is I want to what I want to do and have fun while I’m doing it. This is what I do.

TSS: And that’s a point of view that I think not a lot of people have in hip-hop. I think a lot of people are trying to be the best. But, I think the people that are going to go the furthest are the ones who aren’t backing themselves into a corner and just want to make good music.

A$AP Rocky: With me, it’s like, I don’t to be better than anybody and I don’t care about being the best. I just care about being the best that I can be.

TSS: What will it take for you to be satisfied?

A$AP Rocky: Satisfied, as far as what?

TSS: In general, as a person. You say you want to reach these goals for yourself…

A$AP Rocky: Oh, I want to see the kids in third-world countries knowing the lyrics and sh*t, and being inspired. That’s when I’m going to be satisfied.

TSS: How has Polo Ground Music positioned you to do that?

A$AP Rocky: I mean, with everything that’s going on right now, it was like a straight lay-up. And, you know, it was almost like a pass-off and I’m here to slam-dunk it. What’s going on right now is that my partner Bryan Leach, he laid down the format for me to kill the game. He had successful acts as far as Pitbull and Lil Jon. Now, it’s somebody from his hometown, so he can relate and participate more with what’s going on.

TSS: Aside from the local comfort Bryan provided and before the money, was there any reluctance to sign with a label who’s flagship projects had been from more pop-oriented artists, like Pitbull and Young Joc?

A$AP Rocky: Yeah, of course. But, I looked at it like, ‘Yo, I can keep doing my whole independent thing for a while and see where it goes. Or, I can make a change and show the world what Harlem is doing right now at this moment, as far the youth goes, and as far as my age group and era. I can portray the images we live by every day, you know what I mean? And, I can support and put money into the pockets of my friends, who work as hard and as much as I do and are reaching for the same goals. That’s just what it is. We do it for the culture. And, it’s like, the money comes along with it, which is a plus, you know? At the end of the day, it’s a win-win situation. So, that’s why I signed.

TSS: Sounds like good reasoning to me.

A$AP Rocky: (Laughs)

TSS: Now that the ink’s dried up, the tour’s over and your mixtape is out, what’s your next move?

A$AP Rocky: My next move? Um…I’m directing videos. I direct my own. I want to start tapping into music I never did before. But, first, I got to get people used my sound. So, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, but sooner or later I really want to tap into music that’s going to take it to the next edge. Because, I feel you can do anything. You shouldn’t be limited to anything, just because of where you from, or what you look like or who you are. You should be able to do what you want. So, right about now, this is just about the new thing, I just want to do what I want to do. That’s it.

TSS: You gonna’ do a rock album with Kid Cudi, or what?

A$AP Rocky: I would love to. And that’s not even a joke (Laughs).

TSS: I know. I know.

A$AP Rocky: I would love to. He’s one of my favorites, believe it or not. I know that’s so, like, lame. But, it is what it is.

TSS: No, it isn’t. Again, it’s all relative. That’s what you listen to. Just because he’s a newer artist, doesn’t mean he can’t be one of your favorites. Ask Drake, right?

A$AP Rocky: Yeah, true indeed.

TSS: When’s your next project coming out?

A$AP Rocky: I wanna say really soon. We’re working on some stuff right now for it, so it’s gonna’ drop really soon. I can’t just give you a straight up specific date, but we’re working. We in the works of things and it’s coming along good.

TSS: That’s what fans want to hear. Another thing they always like to know is which artists do you want to work with the most?

A$AP Rocky: Everybody. I’m so serious.

TSS: Anybody, in particular?

A$AP Rocky: Everybody, in particular.

TSS: Fair enough. I want to work with everyone, too.

A$AP Rocky: (Laughs)

TSS: I read a quote of you, in Complex, saying, “If you’re a millionaire, live like a thousandaire.” When you signed your deal and became a millionaire yourself, what was one thing you bought that you typically wouldn’t have? You can’t say clothes, because I know you would’ve bought those regardless.

A$AP Rocky: (Laughs) I’m gonna’ have to say a necklace. Two necklaces.

TSS: Now, not a chain? I want to specify.

A$AP Rocky:: Well…it is. It is.

TSS: (Laughs) Hey, I’m not mad at you. If that’s what you want, that’s what you want. The money’s yours.

TSS: What’s your favorite spot in New York that most people don’t know about?

A$AP Rocky: SoHo. The lower, east side of SoHo. I love it down there. And, I’m always down there.

TSS: You got any spot in particular you want to shout out?

A$AP Rocky: Shout out to Prohibit and Black Scale. I’m always over there.

TSS: What’s the one thing you want to see in this life and have not?

A$AP Rocky: Longevity, man.

TSS: Being that Thanksgiving is this week, what are you most thankful for?

A$AP Rocky: I’m thankful to have God’s blessing. Honestly. I feel so blessed. God is great. God is good. That’s what I’m thankful for.

TSS: And having that purple swag helps, too, right?

A$AP Rocky: Oh yeah! (Laughs) Most definitely.

A$AP Rocky’s debut, LiveLoveA$AP, is available now for download. The lead single, “Peso,” can be purchased on iTunes. For more information, visit his official site, http://www.ASAPmob.com, follow the crew on Twitter @ASAPMOB and check him out on Facebook.

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