Sunday marked what would have been the 28th birthday of Steven Rodriguez, popularly known as A$AP Yams, and widely referred to as the mastermind behind the formation of the respected music/art/fashion collective A$AP Mob. To memorialize the day, the A$AP Foundation published A$AP Yams Gems, a short book of Yams’s notoriously unfiltered tweets.
Accessory manufacturer HEX offered their support by producing a series of A$AP Yams Legacy iPhone 6/7 cases. Needless to say, spirits were high as fans joined A$AP Yams’s mother Tatianna “Tati” Paulino, and members of the Mob, including A$AP Ferg and Marty Baller for a special book and merch signing at HEX’s store in Downtown Los Angeles. At the tail end of the night’s festivities, HYPEBEAST caught up with Ferg for a quick check-in on the status of his upcoming music project, “Still Striving,” his current tour dubbed “Turnt & Burnt” featuring guests Playboi Carti and Rob $tone, and his 2017 plans.
The event also helped to bring attention to the mission of the A$AP Foundation, which seeks to enlighten today’s youth on drug abuse, by raising awareness on the dangers of mixing drugs. By engaging young people through performance and visual arts, the A$AP Foundation seeks to achieve its ultimate goal of keeping our youth safe. To support and learn more about the A$AP Foundation’s cause, please visit their official webpage.
You’ve been touring like a mad man this year, how do you keep yourself mentally and physically balanced on the road, if at all?
I stay mentally and physically balanced by keeping good people around me. My uncle is around me, he’s my security. When it comes to everybody I work with on the day-to-day, I either grew up with them or they are long time friends.
You had an interview earlier this year where you stated, “hip-hop game is not guaranteed, it’s a short window.” Can you further elaborate?
It’s a hustle, everyday. Nothing is guaranteed. You don’t graduate and get a college degree for hip hop you know what I’m saying? It’s just like being on the streets — you have to wake up early in the morning and get to it. It’s a hustle, it’s a grind. If you don’t put out something that someone likes, and they decide not to buy your project (or your product), it’s over for you.
Going off the note of “short window,” what’s the best piece of advice you can give to up-and-coming rappers on getting into the game?
Make noise. Make all the noise that you can because at the end of the day, if you’re a child and want some type of attention, you’re going to make noise. You have to approach it in a similar manner. If you’re in your neighborhood and they have a bunch of tournaments, which brings out the community, perform at a bunch of these performances for free, and make noise.
Getting into your upcoming project, “Still Striving,” what is the main focus right now? Can you clue us in on any features and/or producers?
It is basically going to be a lot of tracks that I wanted to make the album (Always Strive and Prosper), but opted not to include as I didn’t want to make the album too long. It’s going to be a combination of those and a lot of tracks I hit the studio to record afterwards. I recently worked with Alchemist. How that came about is that him and I were just kicking it in the studio. I do that a lot. It’s a process I’d liken to a mentorship — we converse, play music and begin building towards where we want to take our sounds in the future. You can expect something from Alchemist and I in the future. However, right now, I’m focusing on what I have in front of me at hand.
Can you take us through the process of making “Young N*gga Living” with A$AP Ant and A$AP Twelvy on Cozy Tapes Vol.1? A lot of people are saying that was one of the best songs on the project.
I appreciate everyone who loves the song. I love the song as well. I think that while recording the song, I was thinking of being a young guy in this world and how I’m moving. That’s “young n*gga living,” you can hear it in the verse. Everything I’m talking about from being young and in the streets; being careful, looking after your back, how the game is… “I’ll take your 360, work off your anus / Shit on these n*ggas, like you constipated / See that’s what I did / And Momma I made it.” It’s like, I’m going to take the 360. They think that they’re slaving us, but at the end of the day, if that’s the cards that we’ve been dealt, let’s work with it and let’s get past it.
How involved will you be with A$AP Mob’s new partnership with MTV?
I don’t know too much about the partnership simply because I’ve been touring and working a lot on my different projects, but when Rocky needs me, I’m here at his disposal. Whatever he needs…
What are you plans for 2017?
In 2017, I’m never going to stop. That’s my viewpoint — more music, more product, more Ferg period. You’re going to see more Ferg, and you won’t stop seeing me.
Art basel’s coming up, will you be creating artwork again like you did last year?
I haven’t had the time to be in the art studio. I’ve just been in the studio recording music, so I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to pull off another art piece. I have to be in a particular mindset in order to create something on a blank canvas.
How did you link up with Playboi Carti and Rob $tone and what has the creative process been like working with them?
Carti is the newest and youngest A$AP Mob member. I thought it would be appropriate to bring him on tour with me. Rob $tone is one of the hottest young acts on the West Coast. We’re both signed to RCA and they brought him to my attention. He has a banging record out right now, so I opted to bring him out.
How do you usually combat the New York winter? What are your wardrobe essentials?
I haven’t been in a New York winter in a long time. I’ve been traveling so much. Jackets sit in my closet for real.