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A$AP Rocky Biography

By

2014 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Name: Rakim Mayers

Born: October 3, 1988

Hometown: Harlem, New York

Interesting Facts About A$AP Rocky
  • Named after rapper Rakim (of Eric B. & Rakim fame)
  • Started rapping at 8

Childhood:

Born in the crime-infested Harlem neighborhood, Rocky found himself getting caught up in clandestine street activities. He saw his father go to jail at 12 for dealing. The next year, his older brother was murdered near his apartment in Harlem. Rocky spent a good chunk of his childhood camping out in shelters with his single mother.

Early Rap Career:

With his father and older brother gone, Rocky turned elsewhere for inspiration: hip-hop. He started experimenting with rhymes at 8 but didn't start rapping seriously until when he was around 17. He grew up on a steady diet of UGK, Devin the Dude, the Diplomats, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, among others.

Rapping Style:

ASAP Rocky's style is smooth and breezy, the culmination of years and years of gorging on southern-fried raps as well as hip-hop styles from other areas. Houston, in particular, figures prominently in his sound. On any given song, you'll catch him referencing purple drank, incorporating Houston rap lingo, and drawing out his syllables. His debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP, carried on a long tradition of New York rappers appropriating styles from other regions. Stylistically, the tape pays homage to Ohio's Bone Thugs-N-Harmony in one breath and Houston's chopped and screwed in the next.

ASAP Worldwide:

One of the qualities that sets Rocky apart from his peers is that he assembled a crew of creative minds long before his major deal. That seemingly minor step increased his brand's desirability at the bidding table; Sony saw a self-sustained machine with cost-saving possibilities. Rocky assembled the A$AP Mob in 2007. It includes rappers, producers, and video directors. The crew's three main producers Clams Casino ("Wassup," "Bass," "Palace"), ASAP Ty Beats ("Purple Swag," "Peso"), and SpaceGhostPurpp ("Keep It G"), are largely responsible for cultivating ASAP Rocky's woozy soundscapes. The acronym "ASAP" is widely adopted by Rocky's posse. "Everybody in the crew got an ASAP name," he told me in our interview. The moniker stands for a variety of things, including Always Strive and Prosper. Another definition Rocky is "Assassinating Snitches and Police." Rocky's favorite definition is Acronym Symbolizing Any Purpose.

RCA Deal:

Rocky's dedication to his crew and his art eventually paid off. Two self-released singles, "Peso" and "Purple Swag," would go on to earn some blog love and airplay. A label war ensued. In October 2011, ASAP Rocky accepted a $3 million offer ($1.7 million for his solo work + $1.3 million to fund ASAP Worldwide) from Sony subsidiary Polo Grounds, which is distributed by RCA Records. The first thing Rocky bought when he signed on the dotted line? Champagne.

Live.Love.A$AP:

A$AP Rocky's first release was a six-song EP titled Deep Purple. It presented Rocky as a fun Harlem kid with a slow flow. On Halloween 2011, he expanded his ever-evolving sound palette on his debut mixtape, LiveLoveA$AP. The tape featured beats by Clams Casino and Ty Beats, as well as rhymes by ScHoolboy Q and Spaceghost Purrp. LiveLoveA$AP made several year-end lists and earned Rocky a BBC Sound of 2012 nomination. Rocky's stock rose even higher after Drake publicly praised him and added him to his Club Paradise tour.

ASAP Rocky in His Own Words:

"I'm going to be honest with you-- I used to be homophobic, but that's f~cked up. I had to look in the mirror and say, "All the designers I'm wearing are gay." I hear stories about all these industry motherf~~~~~s who are gay, and I don't know if it's true or not, but that sh!t don't matter. It's so immature." [Pitchfork]

"I feel like they [Houstonians] should embrace me. I love the culture. I'm keeping it real. I'm from New York and I love that culture. I love it more than this New York sh~t. So why wouldn't you f~ckin' f~ck with me back?" [About.com]

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