You have to appreciate a boss who can lead from behind (ayo). It’s take a special kind of person to allow his counterparts and underlings to shine with minimal interference. A$AP Yams is that type of individual. A true student of the game who used to break night researching the independent thinkers like Tony Draper, J. Prince and even Jim Jones, Yams learned what it would take to get his team into the spotlight and beyond. And a major part of those lessons was to move quietly and deflect attention to one’s product, rather than hogging the camera and the interviews. Too often, the man with the plan has his own agenda for fame. Yams is not that dude.
So to all you artists out there, who don’t wanna be on a record label where the executive producer’s all up in the videos, all on the records, dancing then come to A$AP Worldwide!
VIBE: How did you get the name Yams?
Yams: I don’t even know fully to be honest. I didn’t even like it at first. It started as Yams Rothstein and Young Yams but like motherfuckers just ran with it. The name means something in slang but I won’t get into it because the Feds be watching (laughs). Funny thing is when we at Roscoe’s everybody gotta pause when they order yams.
So how did the label deal come about? What’s your role within that?
When Rocky got signed we started A$AP Worldwide because he was a young hot New York rapper so they gave us the label to sweeten the deal. Me and Rocky are the co owners of A$AP Worldwide. My role is everything that comes out from Rocky or anything we make I put stamp of approval on it. That’s from a musical standpoint to a business standpoint. I make sure everything is right.
I heard you’re a high school drop out. How did you get your musical education though?
Yeah, I dropped out of high school after getting left back in 10th grade like three times. I was always aware though. I did little hustles here and there but mainly I studied. I listened to everything. I read a lot of articles from the 90s. I learned about Dee and Waah (Ruff Ryders) and Tony Draper. I learned about J. Prince. That gave me the mindset of how I should approach the game.
Does the rest of your team share that sentiment of studying the rap history and the greats?
We’re all like that but I take it to the extreme. I’m a psycho about it. I want to know everything. We’re all inspired by what we grew up on but I’m definitely the main culprit.
So you mentioned Tony Draper and a slew of other execs as influences. Who was your biggest influence though?
Honestly, Jim Jones was my biggest influence. I worked for Dip Set for awhile but before that I was just inspired because I saw Jimmy build that from the ground up. I saw Jimmy hitting bootleg spots with garbage bags of mixtapes, doing hand to hand business until it got off the ground. He kept that movement going. Then he got A&R gig at Warner and I was like “Wow.” So I put the all the little things I learned from him to use.
Do you and Jimmy do business or kick it?
No, I barely see Jim but he fucks with us on that big brother shit. They paved the way for us and he’ll call us with pointers. And I got even bigger gems on my own from just watching him. Fights at the show can’t happen because promoters get scared to book you if they think there will be violence. Some other rappers get stuck in strip clubs and small clubs because of that. We do Coachella and other festivals and want to keep that going.
So Rocky is obviously taking off. What about the rest of the Mob?
Funniest thing about A$AP is no one knew we were a group. Everyone was like “Who the fuck are they?” Then when Ferg hit it was like “Wow there’s more of them.” So we do it all step by step. They didn’t think we could live up to hype as a crew. But watch we gonna take these steps one by one till every one of us is the same as Rock.
So who’s next to come out the camp?
Top of the year Rocky is dropping then Ferg is up next. Then we’re going to see who is hungry.
Ferg is that dude! His song structure is the most developed.
Who is else is dope?
Everybody but I also think Nast is ill. He’s like Kurupt to Rocky’s Snoop. He does Harlem fashion shit like no one else but he’s straight raw talent like DMX. He’ll shut you down on your own track. When they hear Nast they’re gonna really wake up.
So how was the tour?
The tour was crazy. First three weeks was the most fun but then it starts to wear on you. I’m out here living like a rapper and cant handle business like I want to. I’m used to being up by 9am but on tour i get up round 5pm because the shows the night before and the bus life. But it’s been cool reconnecting with a lot of the fans and people we’ve met over the past year.
Why go on the tour if you can’t handle your business like you want to?
As long as there’s a studio around I’ll be around plus I’m the voice of reason in some situations. I keep motherfuckers levelheaded and focused. On tour the bitches, pussy, weed… it can make you lose focus.
Why do you care so much? Some other manager/exec types might have just latched onto the obvious star Rocky and just let everyone else fend for themselves.
Nah bruh bruh. Me and my team I cant see us losing. I was so focused on getting the ball rolling for all of us I cant stop now. I’m always around. As long as me and Rocky are together niggas can’t stop us. I make it my business to know everything going on in the industry. Who’s coming up? Who’s on their way out? Because see, I’m not trying to build a rap label. We all see what happens to rap labels, they just fall by the wayside. I’m trying to build a legitimate record company like Def Jam.
Catch Up: Mob Ties: Meet A$AP Ferg