When you’ve signed a $3 million record deal and are being pegged as New York’s next game-changing superstar by a bevy of artists and the music press, such unmitigated hype can be crushing. Yet 23-year old Harlem spitter Rocky A$AP welcomes all expectations. The spacey, slang-driven, highly southern rap influenced rhymer—who signed a lucrative deal with Polo Grounds/RCA and recently dropped his buzz-heavy mixtape LiveLoveA$AP—does not fit the mode of the conventional East Coast MC. At times his witty, stoner-guided music sounds like what would happen if Harlem World’s seminal clique The Diplomats were born and raised in Houston, Texas instead of the Rotten Apple.
“When I was 11, my favorite song was Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin’ On Some Syrup,” he says to VIBE of the Dirty South classic. “I used to go crazy when that song came on! I didn’t known they were talking about that lean. I thought they were talking about pancake syrup [laughs]. But I just knew I loved it. Honestly, I’ve been influenced by everything…from Dipset, Mobb Deep and the Wu-Tang Clan to No Limit, Cash Money, UGK and Bone Thugs N Harmony. I think with all of those influences I have been able to use them to my advantage because it helps me be more diverse as an artist.”
Rocky, who first made waves with his Internet hit “Peso” this past summer, says that cosigns by the headlining likes of Drake (he is set to go out on the Young Money MC’s upcoming Club Paradise Tour) and write-ups in such respected publications as The New York Times, won’t affect his grind. Rocky claims that he is already busy at work on his solo studio debut. “I’m going to give this whole mixtape some time to die out,” he says of his current underground release. “I can say that I’m about a good six tracks done for my Long Live A$SAP album. I’m not going to let the fans down.”
And those fans include a diverse cross-demographic base that may surprise some followers. “I’m respected by all the respected fashion blogs,” he says. “It’s all about diversity. I don’t give a fuck if you white, black, brown or yellow. I really just want to keep the peace. I really love people for who they are. I’m not gay or anything like that, but even gay people—they can be fans too. All the designer stuff I wear is made by gay people. I used to be an ignorant, homophobic cat. I didn’t know any better…I was young. Now that I’m knowledgeable about life all this shit has made me a better person. I feel like the world can be a better place if we learn how to accept each other for who we are.”—Keith Murphy (murphdogg29)