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26 Sep

A$AP Rocky: father of a generation

A$AP Rocky: father of a generation

With the arrival of the world’s flyest newborn, and a latest album on the way in which, our summer 2022 cover star A$AP Rocky discusses his ‘fairytale with a street twist’, his Bajan heritage, and influencing a generation of creative young people

Taken from the summer 2022 issue of Dazed. You’ll be able to buy a replica of our latest issue here.

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It began as a “fairytale with a street twist”, says the Grammy-nominated rapper and elegance icon A$AP Rocky.

Rocky, 33, will not be just referring to his trap-leaning hit from 2013, “Fashion Killa”, a paean to the icy, downtown fashionistas of his city, Recent York. He’s also referring to the star of its video: the Barbadian pop superstar, Fenty Beauty mogul and future mother of his child, Rihanna. 

The pair were just friends once they shot the music video, sometime after wrapping up the North American leg of Rihanna’s Diamonds world tour (Rocky served because the opening act). Rihanna had just moved right into a penthouse in Recent York City’s SoHo neighbourhood, where, under the direction of the late fashion luminary Virgil Abloh, she and Rocky strolled arm-in-arm past an array of designer stores, draped in matching Supreme jerseys – the final word look du jour.

Versace, got rather a lot, but she may never wear it / But she reserve it so our babies shall be flyer than their parents,” rhymed Rocky on the track and, as if an invocation of a spell, he set in motion the course of their next decade together.

“I wish to think that the celebrities were aligned,” Rocky tells me sanguinely over the phone from Los Angeles. Per the request of a really pregnant Rih, whom he almost exclusively refers to as “my lady”, the couple have just thrown a raver-themed baby shower, where attendees reportedly walked away with commemorative tees reading, “I went to Rih & Rocky’s Rave Shower and all I got was this amazing shirt”.

The best way Rocky sees it, there have been indeed larger cosmic forces at play in 2020, when he and the “Needed Me” singer solidified their longtime friendship-turned-romance. It never seemed realer than when Rihanna brought Rocky to Barbados for the primary time to fulfill her family and relatives of his late father, who immigrated from the island. “It was one of the vital surreal experiences I’ve ever encountered in my lifetime,” he says.

Rocky was born Rakim Athelaston Mayers within the storied Black enclave of Harlem, Recent York. At 16, he found home within the ragtag crew of streetwise yet starry-eyed rappers, producers and designers often known as the A$AP Mob: modern-day bohemians in Recent York City. Founder Steven ‘A$AP Yams’ Rodriguez, who died in 2015, gave the group its acronym, which stood for his guiding mantra: “At all times Strive and Prosper”. A smooth-talking Cheshire Cat of an MC, Rocky got here to be the group’s star player, before signing a $3m record cope with Sony in 2011. He earned the rights to his distinctive braggadocio when his 2013 solo album, Long. Live. A$AP, and its 2015 follow-up, At. Long.Last. A$AP, each debuted at No 1 on the American Billboard chart. Rocky was soon tapped to work with high-profile designers like Abloh and Raf Simons; he eventually founded his own creative agency, AWGE, and on his 2018 LP, Testing, he conducted sonic experiments with the likes of Moby, Frank Ocean, Skepta and FKA twigs.

Within the 4 years since his last LP, Rocky has flitted out and in of studios and Zoom calls to wrap up an album he swears shall be out soon. But with the arrival of the world’s flyest baby, Rocky is poised to tackle his most offbeat experiment yet: starting a family. 2022 marks a decade since Rocky landed certainly one of his first ever cover features, courtesy of Dazed. Between contributing to probably the most iconic baby bump in living memory, and his debut foray into whisky-blending, Mercer + Prince, Rocky has done an entire lot of growing up since he first arrived on the scene. In an intimate conversation, he meditates on his Caribbean roots, his evolution as an artist, and the longer term he’s desperate to manifest.

You’ve been spending loads of time in Barbados with Rihanna. What’s it like attending to know the place where your father was born through your partner?

A$AP Rocky: It was truthfully so unbelievable. I had family there that only got here up [to New York] once every five years, family I only spoke to over the phone my whole life. You remember those one-dollar, five-dollar phone cards? I used to be raised to learn about my heritage, but I used to be missing the actual experience. I didn’t get to experience it until I used to be an adult. It was one of the vital surreal experiences I’ve encountered in my lifetime.

What’s your relationship like along with your Bajan heritage? Did you’re feeling like an element of the Caribbean community in Recent York?

A$AP Rocky: Caribbean culture is big in Recent York. We had J’ouvert [also known as the West Indian Day Parade] down in Brooklyn, but we were everywhere in the Bronx, Harlem, Queens. Growing up, my dad, my aunts and all my cousins, everybody around was Bajan. All of us grew up together. I had the food, the history, the music – calypso and all that shit. Bajan heritage is cool as fuck.

How do you want soca music?

A$AP Rocky: It’s weird, but soca’s a bit too fast for me. I like my music slowed down, like Houston chopped and screwed. I should chop and screw some soca and calypso, which may actually be sick.

Speaking of family and heritage: how do you envision yourself as a father? What sort of parent do you desire to be?

A$AP Rocky: I’ll at all times remind my children to never lose their imagination, at the same time as adults, regardless of what. I actually love to observe cartoons – I’ve watched like, Teletubbies, Blue’s Clues, Yo Gabba Gabba, Peppa Pig and Baby Shark. I hope to boost open-minded children. Not individuals who discriminate. And I’m not attempting to describe a saint, but realistically, I just desire a cool child with cool parents.

That may’t be difficult – you and Rihanna have already influenced a generation of creative young people.

A$AP Rocky: It’s beautiful that we are able to even do this. Things like diversity and flexibility are vital, and so they’ll be embedded within the household.

While you dropped ‘Babushka Boi’ in 2019, it gave the impression of a clever way of addressing the scars in your face and the scarves you wear over them – to me, it’s a song about working in your body image. How did you come to embrace your scars and, as Tyra Banks says, ‘make it fashion’?

A$AP Rocky: I believe scars are like war wounds, they only remind you of where you got here from and what you could have to point out for it. The common person doesn’t have one sort of look. There are plus-size models, people who find themselves heavy-set modelling lingerie now. My lady hires them on a regular basis. All of us have scars or imperfections. I believe sometimes your scars bring you back to reality. Embrace it. Make it be just right for you.

I would like to speak concerning the premature passing of your friend and collaborator, Virgil Abloh. You and the A$AP Mob inspired him rather a lot in his profession, from his label Off-White to the brand Been Trill. What about him was so inspiring to you?

A$AP Rocky: Virgil was an oracle for loads of us Black kids and young creatives. Even should you take ethnicity or nationality out of it, he influenced a lot culture, whether hip hop, fashion or Louis Vuitton. You’ll be able to’t really distinguish streetwear from high fashion at this point. Have a look at Balenciaga, have a look at Hood By Air. He pushed all of us creatives to simply get our ideas on the market into the world – and [to not] take time with no consideration. Because should you left it as much as me, I can be working on one project for so long as it takes, whether it’s months or years. All of us assume time is a given, but it surely’s really not promised. You’ve got to get your creative thoughts and urges out immediately – A-S-A-P, no pun intended. We would have liked someone like Virgil.

Virgil was also an authority curator. What makes something art will not be just the raw expression, however the curation of it.

A$AP Rocky: I agree! It’s all about execution and curation. There may be an oversaturation of so many types of art now. Like, someone could make a very cool painting, but in the event that they do a gallery show and it’s not curated right – it could appear like shit! That plays into music and films too; the way you roll them out is an element of the curation.

It’s been almost ten years because you and Virgil directed the video for ‘Fashion Killa’, with Rihanna as your co-star. It was greater than a music video – it was a mission statement on your milieu of artists and designers in Recent York. Are you able to speak about making this video and its impact?

A$AP Rocky: I used to be just on tour with my lady, you recognize? We wanted it to feel like a love story, a fairytale with a street twist. I expected my core following to be receptive, but with Virgil in the combination, its success was a no brainer. I used to be living in Recent York on the time, too.

“I believe scars are like war wounds, they only remind you of where you got here from and what you could have to point out for it” – A$AP Rocky

This was the era of the GHE20G0TH1K parties, the punk and hip-hop fusions in street fashion.

A$AP Rocky: I miss those days. I used to be definitely a poster boy for it. Streetwear, skateboarding, Raf Simons, Maison Margiela and shit. That was my leather era. It was an incredible era, and it’s still in my DNA.

I can’t help but think back to the 2021 Met Gala – the time you and Rihanna debuted as a pair in public, wearing these cosy blanket-esque garments. Did you two have a conversation about what you’ll wear before going out?

A$AP Rocky: I didn’t know what she was wearing, she didn’t know what I used to be wearing. I went to Eli’s spot – Eli Russell Linnetz, he owns the label ERL – and once I walked in there was this quilt just sitting on the couch. I used to be like, ‘Can I actually have that quilt?’ And he was like, ‘Well, I actually just thrifted it.’ He had picked out a number of looks for me, but I used to be on his ass about that quilt. And so he stitched it together and made it a custom piece. That’s how I made a decision to wear a quilt to the Met Gala.

Do you and Rihanna generally have an unspoken understanding that you simply’re gonna do you and she or he’s gonna do Rih? And it just works?

A$AP Rocky: I believe it’s just natural. We occur to look good together naturally. You already know, it could take loads of work to have us forcefully match before we leave the home. Sometimes we match to a T, or we just wear the identical clothes. If I purchase a shirt that she likes, I expect to get it stolen… but then I gotta steal it back.

Do you could have any collaborations on the way in which that we should always learn about?

A$AP Rocky: Me and ERL got a collaboration dropping in August. I even have a collaboration with Mercedes-Benz [and PacSun] that’s dropping – the second, we sold out the primary.

What are you able to tell us about your upcoming album, All Smiles?

A$AP Rocky: One thing I can let you know is that the name isn’t gonna be All Smiles – you recognize, I never publicly said that my album was called All Smiles! That one is more of an idea project, it’s music and more. I’m wrapping up the brand new album now; I’ve been shooting so many visuals for it. I don’t wish to be cliche or sound like a salesman, but I’ve pushed myself to the limit on the whole lot. Going from that industrial, subversive sound from [2018 album] Testing after which graduating with a more polished sound… I similar to where it’s.

You could have expanded your palette a lot in the previous few years. You’ve played with psychedelic sounds, electronic sounds – on Testing you sampled Moby’s ‘Porcelain’. What are you listening to as of late?

A$AP Rocky: I’m listening to loads of hip hop, but additionally the classics. The 60s is my era. I take heed to The Stones, obviously. The Zombies, The Monkees, Jefferson Airplane. Jimi Hendrix, in fact! James Brown. That is technically [from the] early 70s, but my favourite rock album is Electric Warrior by T. Rex.

It doesn’t surprise me that you simply’re going back to the 60s. It was an enormous turning point for culture. What about that point speaks to you?

A$AP Rocky: You already know how within the 50s, people watched TV in black and white? Guys like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and The Beatles wore suits, fresh cuts, uniforms. Then the 60s brought color TV, and The Beatles took all the cash they made and splurged on what they loved: going to India, tripping out on psychedelics, playing the sitar and spinning records backwards. They were experimenting because they may afford it, and doing something so weird it became a latest genre… People [are] still attempting to meet up with the 60s.

Popular music felt more experimental in those days. Do you think that it’s being encouraged within the industry now?

A$AP Rocky: I don’t think this can be a time where experimental shit is accepted. You won’t hear it on the radio. Shout-outs to the pioneers who still take risks and do what they need.

Suzy Exposito is a reporter for the LA Times


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