By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
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 swagged-out mixtapes. His official debut, LongLiveA$AP, will be released in 2013. In the meantime, each member of the crew — Yams, J. Scott, Fergy, Twelvy, Ant, and Nast — has a vision (and the hunger to realize it) that promises to make the A$AP brand a dynasty, not just a one-man show.
New Times: What's up, Yams? You're credited with starting A$AP.
Yams: Really me, A$AP Bari, and A$AP Illz started A$AP. Me and Rocky own A$AP Worldwide.
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So how'd you meet Rocky?
Yams: I met him through Bari. [We] were hanging out a lot around this time and I had been online, flexing with Max B.'s chains, trying to recruit people for this A$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.
Ferg: We were just young kids and we were running Harlem. It was like pregame to what we're doing now. Boat rides, fuckin' all the girls.
What was the initial reception to A$AP Rocky?
Yams: At first, "Purple Swag" had people saying he sounded like he was from Houston and criticizing us. We didn't let it deter our vision, though. We knew once "Peso" hit, it would show that NYC culture. We had 30 young dudes on the corner, shooting dice with 40s and Timbs, shots of Harlem. It was our New York.
Do you guys ever fight among yourselves about who is going to be next up or who gets what beat?
Nast: Nah, nah, not at all. This may sound crazy or exaggerated, but we never fight. For real. We're all pitching in to help Rocky with his album because he's the most visible crew member. There's no jealousy, though. We're glad that he's kicking down the door for the rest of us to come in and shine off our own shit.
That's admirable. Is it because you've all been friends prior to the music?
Nast: Probably. I met most of the crew just being around in Harlem. We all kicked before the music even came about, for the most part.
How has this last year been? How has your life changed?
Twelvy: Last year, I was working at Best Buy. It's funny because I met some people in [Best Buy] that I met later, like they were shopping there. Usually they don't remember me, though, from that.
A$AP movement grew by leaps and bounds within the past 12 months. What have been some of the highs and lows?
J. Scott: The highs are being able to help friends out on the ground level. Just to witness the growth and being able to see so many new places and cultures together all over the world is an experience like no other. The lows, though, have to be all the weird people coming out of nowhere that think they know you, so they're all up in your face talking about bullshit.
You guys get compared to Wu-Tang Clan fairly often. How do you feel about that?
Nast: Oh man, it's an honor. I grew up listening to those dudes. For us to be fresh out the gate and people are already making those comparisons feels great. I kinda wish they would let us be us before comparing us to people, but I can't be too mad if we're getting compared to the greats.
If you were had to pick a member of Wu-Tang who represents your role within A$AP, who would it be?
Yams: Well, RZA because of how he's got the actual name Wu-Tang. Aside from that, though, I would have to say Raekwon. I say that more from his style because I don't really rap. But his style was just always cutting-edge and fresh to me. Kids still look to his old videos for fashion inspiration.
J. Scott: Although I would love to be Ghostface, I'm probably more like GZA. I say that because he was the spiritual one. Ha-ha.
Nast: I want to say Ghostface, but I'm going to go with Ol' Dirty Bastard. He just stood out so much. His style was so distinct. He stood out the most to me from the rest of the Clan.
Ferg: Method Man. I think if Yams and Rocky would be RZA, then I'd be Mef because of his charisma, and he's got the side group thing with Redman, plus the acting. He's just the most all-around. That's me within A$AP. I would've said ODB because I like to harmonize too, but that's more Nast.
Ant: Definitely Raekwon. I say that because I love Rae. I love the coke references, the stylish persona, the ill Polo pieces. They were the first to do Cristal, the ill iced-out medallions... Just swag.