It’s exactly a week since self-dubbed “pretty motherfucker” A$AP Rocky released his 16-track mixtape ‘LiveLoveA$AP’, and he strides into the Polo Grounds Music offices a couple of blocks from Madison Square Garden. “How’s it going, B?” 23-year old Rocky greets label boss and hip-hop kingpin Bryan Leach, fixes himself a Hennessy and Pepsi from Leach’s personal bar, and drapes himself over a leather armchair, laptop open and Facebook on before he hits the seat.
The last week has been a good one for Rocky, the Harlem-born rapper whose real name is Rakim Meyers (yep, he’s named after THAT Rakim). “Finally, people have to come out with if they like me or not now,” he says. “There’s no wondering if I’m good or not. And I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback.”
Good feedback is an understatement. It’s not even a year since A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg dropped a handmade video for a track they made called ‘Get High’ on YouTube. At the time Rocky had moved his mother and baby sister from Harlem to New Jersey and was paying for their apartment by selling drugs on the street.
“It was a way of surviving: I didn’t have a job, my mum didn’t have a job,” he says – but pushing dope finally came to an end in July, around the same time he put a new video, ‘Purple Swag’, online.
It took a third video – for woozy Houston rap number ‘Peso’, in August – and suddenly everyone wanted a piece of A$AP Rocky. Including Polo Grounds Music, part of Sony/RCA, who put a $3 million deal on the table to sign him and fund a group label called A$AP Worldwide, with Rocky in charge.
“I’m a tastemaker. I know how to look out for what’s good, what’s big, what’s next,” he says, pulling out a bag of weed and calling up YouTube videos of Tennessee ‘gangster walk’ and Lana Del Rey.
If there’s pressure on him to deliver, Rocky’s not feeling it yet. “This is easy!” he says lighting up with a grin. “Selling drugs is hard. But this? All you gotta do is show up and do what you love.”
Need to know:
From: Harlem, New York
For Fans Of: Odd Future, Drake
Buy It Now: ‘LiveLoveA$AP’ is available online for free now
See Him Live: He’s hoping to be in the UK in January
Believe It Or Not: Rocky turned vegetarian recently. “It doesn’t make sense to take a life for your satisfaction,” he says.
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This article originally appeared in the November 19th issue of NME