Elliott Wilson’s CRWN interview series, which always features a who’s who of hip hop heavy weights (Nicki Minaj, Big K.R.I.T, Drake, Rick Ross) has fast developed an identity as a fun, enlightening, no-holds-barred/nothing is off limits kind of discussion. Last night, in conjunction with the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, the man who calls himself “the GOAT of hip hop journalism” gave the people his version of “Inside the Pretty Mother Fu*#er studio” with Harlem’s own A$AP Rocky.
From the outside looking in the last year or so has been a roller coaster of sorts for the most charismatic member of the A$AP Mob. He makes sure to clarify that he is not the leader of the group “I’m not no leader, I joined A$AP in 2007, I’m nobody’s leader, I just know when it’s time to stop fuckin’ around.” After plans for the release of the Mob’s debut album seemed to crumble, reports surfaced that he and super model girlfriend Chanel Iman had also split. But Rocky kept things boomin’ by releasing a video for the Juicy J assisted “Multiply” that carried his momentum into 2015, as he marched on to toward the release of his highly anticipated sophomore album, then tragedy struck. On January 18th news spread that the mastermind behind the A$AP movement and one of Rocky’s dearest friends, A$AP Yams had passed away.
Months later Rocky would reveal to the New York Times that he had actually been with and was one of the people who had actually found Yams unconscious the night of his death, one that was eventually ruled as an accidental drug intoxication. Had the event deterred Rocky’s immediate plans for his next album At Long Last A$AP, anyone would have understood. Somehow it didn’t, with Rocky continuing to roll out new music including “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2” and the Mike Dean produced “M’s.” He also managed to simultaneously get the film world hype for his upcoming role in the movie DOPE (due out June 19th), which he described last night as “Ferris Bueller, Spring Breakers & Juice all in one.” The lowlights definitely did not shake him, the man born Rakim Mayers was extra jiggy and in rare form, VERY RARE form last night.
He’s Not a Young OG; He’s Just Old.
Throughout the night, in addition to asking and sometimes telling the crowd how young they were – “Lemme break it down for you youngstas,” in reference to his work with super producer Dangermouse, Rocky made many allusion and comments to how at the ripe age of 26 years old he feels mature, seasoned and sometimes a bit past things that used to appeal to him.
“I don’t like clubs man, my back be hurtin’ and shit.. I go to a club, turn up, and like 30 minutes I be ready to go. I see a broad or something, a pretty girl come through and I’m out.”
He also made a point to explain (in a respectful manner) how certain things, including how he looks at people he admires are just different now:
“I think that Kanye [West] had a rough time in the fashion industry, I think it’s all starting to pay off. He paved the way; artists like him and Pharrell paved the way for artist like myself. I wouldn’t be here, I’d be full of shit if I didn’t tell you that when I was 16 I wasn’t inspired by Kanye West, you know what I’m saying I’d be lyin’. But now that I’m older I’m inspired by me and other motherfuckers like Earl [Sweatshirt] and other motherfuckers that are putting out dope art [like] Action Bronson, Danny Brown.”
Mos Def Has Served As a Mentor & An Inspiration In Multiple Ways.
While spending time out in London town, something Rocky spoke about multiple times in very high regard, he seemingly became friendly with recent US to UK transplant Yasin Bey aka Mos Def. He went on to explain that he may be “Pretty Flacko Jodye the 2nd” but that the original pretty flacko was unquestionably Mos Def, and that he needed that approval to feel good about using the moniker. Information came out recently saying that Mos was to be featured on the upcoming A.L.L.A as well as his own commentary on the album and the growth of Rocky’s sound, saying that the transition reminded him of the journey from the 1st Beastie Boy’s album to Pauls Boutique. Rocky returned the favor saying
“Two people who I can definitely say got some CRACK comin up, for sure for certain is Mos Def and Pusha T. I swear to y’all Pusha T is spitting like hes 19 again.”
Rocky jokingly spoke about how his role in the upcoming film DOPE, which has been getting a ton of buzz leading up to its release, is not actually a very big part at all and that they only highlighted him because of his jiggyness. But he made it clear how seriously he takes the craft, and that one of his biggest idols when it comes to acting is Mos Def, listing off some of his great film roles like What The Lord Made, 16 Blocks and Be Kind Rewind.
The New Album Has Psychedelic Elements Inspired By Hallucinogens
“Anybody ever did mushrooms? I love psychedelics, man. Einstein did psychedelics, Steve Jobs did them, and they say if you can endure psychedelics that makes you a creative genius.”
Rocky joked around with the crowd that he hates squares who have never expanded their mind and never smoked weed, but also elaborated that expanding his mind definitely played a part in his inspirations; not only just recently, but even dating back to last year’s instrumental album Beauty N the Beast: Slowed Down Sessions Chapter 1, a visual that he premiered last night.
But it’s not all trippy stix, Rocky definitely came with his A-game this time around.
“People wanna hear BARS, they wanna hear some music, they wanna hear rappers..I was fortunate enough to be named after one of the greatest emcees of all time. This is the return of the god emcee I’m talkin’ some lord shit on this next album, at long last A$AP.”
At one point Elliott Wilson mentioned the recent report by HDD that A.L.L.A will be coming May 12th. While Rocky did not confirm it, he definitely didn’t deny it either; in fact the somewhat lighthearted but definitely peeved nature he showed regarding the report would lend some to believe it may in fact be true. Toward the very end of the conversation he referenced how, “Next month (May) should be really interesting, I hope people loved what I worked really hard on.”
Fashion Is Important To Him And To Most Designers It’s All Love… Kind Of.
At one point just to highlight how very rare and original he is fashion wise, Rocky dared the audience to name a single brand he was wearing on stage.. no one was able to.
He went on “its not biting till other rap niggas in my same category do it, its not biting when fans do it , I have a problem with niggas that act like they tryin’ to style on us, like WHAT.”
Back in October he caused an uproar of controversy with his lyrics on the song “Multiply” that targeted and in effect somewhat deaded clothing brands Hood By Air and Been Trill, Tuesday night he elaborated further “not that I supported [brands like HBA & Been Trill], you gotta be precise I MADE them famous”
Recently some new drama emerged via a clip where Rocky seemingly throws shade at Virgil Abloh’s new brand Off White just by omission, he elaborated on that brand and Kanye’s long time co-contributor Virgil:
“Off White’s not for me, but that don’t mean it’s not for everybody else”
But while in one moment he goes out of his way to be the peacemaker he doesn’t hesitate to vehemently break down the facts, “I already killed his other brand, Been Trill you know that’s deaded, that’s his brand too, finished. Now it look like I’m bullyin’ the nigga, I ain’t pickin on him. It’s nothing personal. That doesn’t mean its wack. His women’s line is dope he actually has some good women’s shit”
A$AP Yams Had a Plan That Is Still Being Carried Out Today.
A topic that didn’t get touched on all that much, possibly out of respect and maybe just because it didn’t fit with the general lighthearted nature of this particular CRWN interview was the tragic death of A$AP Mob founder and mastermind A$AP Yams. However Rocky offered an interesting take when asked what happened to the A$AP Mob album, explaining that they are just following the plan that Yam’s laid out. “We have composition notebooks filled with Yams’ ideas,”
It was incredibly fitting that the night closed out with Rocky’s real and touching words about his departed friend. “To have somebody die, it’s just like a wakeup call. We still got each other we still got Yams, long live A$AP Yamorghini, Rest In Peace.”