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Interview with A$AP Rocky

ASAP Rocky talks Rakim, Harlem and Houston acceptance


ASAP Rocky
© RCA/Polo

He's the most exciting new voice in rap. A$AP Rocky has also inspired a good dose of vitriol for adopting elements of Houston hip-hop in his music. The 23-year-old New York native took a break from photo shoots and shopping trips to chat with me about the Harlem Shake and his love for Houston. Dig in, it's sweet.

What's keeping you busy these days?
Videos. Movies. ASAP Worldwide. Albums. Shopping. Haha!

You're from Harlem. Can you do the Harlem Shake?
[Laughs] I used to be good at it.

I can do the Harlem Shake and I've never even been to Harlem.
I want to see you do it. I want to see you battle my boy A$AP Thor*. I wanna see that battle. [Laughs]

What's Harlem like? What are some of your earliest childhood memories?
I just remember like...it was hustlers, hustlers, hustlers. Money, money, money. That's why they call it Money Making Manhattan. You know, it's the upper part of Manhattan, which is the hood. They're all about their money. You know, growing up in Harlem just shows you how to be a hustler.

It sounds like a very aggressive environment.
Any hood is like that, though.

Right. But when I listen to your music, I hear the contrast -- it has a certain ease and laid-back attitude.
That's 'cause I'm a really laid-back dude. I'm not too much of a yeller and stuff like that, you know what I mean?

I do. What was the first hip-hop album you bought?
The first one I bought was Rakim. He released something in...98. I forgot the name of it.

'98, he was doing solo stuff. Must have been The 18th Letter?
He had a bald head or something. He was shirtless on the cover. I had bought the cassette tape when it came out.

Sounds like The 18th Letter. He was bald and shirtless on that one.
Yeah, that was it. That was the first album I bought.

Being from Houston, I find it interesting that your style is largely influenced by my city. How did you get introduced to that sound?
Growing up, man, all I listened to was Geto Boys, UGK, Swishahouse, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, everybody. I just love the culture, man.

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