And there's more to the unlikely story. Rocky, who recently dropped his mixtape ode to glorious swag and stoner bliss 'LIVELOVEA$AP,' has managed to go from local hipster favorite to the future of East Coast hip-hop and beyond. From glowing write-ups in the New York Times to a gaudy $3 million recording deal with the Sony/RCA distributed Polo Grounds Music, Rocky and his A$AP crew have their eyes on a complete rap takeover. Still absurd? After The BoomBox sat down with the 'Peso' MC to find out what all the unmitigated hype was about, maybe not.
You recently dropped your mixtape, 'LiveLoveA$AP.' Were you worried about living up to expectations of the entire buzz surrounding you?
Not at all. This is what the fans have been waiting for. And I'm not alone. I have Bun B on my mixtape, Paul Wall, Main Attractions, Spaceghost Purrp, A$AP Nast and more. I'm bringing a new movement. It's not just about making [hit records].
What made you go with Sony/RCA's Polo Grounds Music, given that you were garnering a lot of attention from other record labels?
I look at it like these guys are more sincere. They understand that you have to let an artist be an artist. Of course every record label is an opportunist. They are not signing me for their health [laughs].
No record label is these days is, right?
Right! But I saw sincerity from Polo Grounds and Bryan Leach [Polo Grounds Music founder]. He and I sat with each other and got to know one another on a personal level. I like him as a person, so I know I was in good hands.
And the $3 million you received didn't hurt, right?
[Laughs] Hey, when you get offers you can't refuse who would turn down $3 million at 23 years old? I don't know too many people who would. These guys have helped me sign all of my friends. They are all signed to my own label A$AP Worldwide. Sony helped me get all that.
One artist that has been in your corner is Drake. How do you feel when you hear such a mainstream platinum artist shout you out during interviews and take you out on the road?
I hear praise from a lot of people, but the fact that Drake wants people to know that I'm the future by taking me out on tour with him, that's what's up. A lot of people love Drake for what he is doing for me right now. They are like, "Yo, you are a good dude for that." Because Drake is a good dude.
Are you taken back by the support Drake has given you?
Yes. It's been crazy. Think about it. Drake could have easily just have said, "Oh, I'm inspired by this cat, but nobody gotta know." None of that happened. Drake was like, "Dude, I'm inspired by you. Come out on tour with me. The world needs to see you." Drake didn't even know my situation. He didn't know if I was going to have a deal or not. He just wanted the world to see what he saw. And I really appreciate it.
Take me back to 'Peso,' the song that introduced you to most mainstream hip-hop fans. Instantly, people pointed to the large southern rap influence, specifically Houston, on your sound. And in the video your look seemed more understated than the flashier Harlem swag we've come to know. What statement were you trying to make?
That it goes to show you that you can make a great music video without diamonds, cars and half naked women, like your typical music video. You can do other s---. It doesn't have to be all bling bling. I'm from Harlem and I have pizzazz and class. I know how to swag it out. I was born in the '80s, but raised in the '90s. But this is how we do it now. That 'Peso' video portrayed my lifestyle: I drink 40's on the regular. I roll dice on the regular. I style on the regular... that's all I was doing.
You made a comment in a New York Times interview that you don't like New York hip-hop, yet you are from Harlem. You received a lot of flack for that statement. Care to clarify?
I f--- with that classic New York sound. So it's not like I don't love New York hip-hop because I do. That's how I came up. I just don't like the modern New York sound. This is basically the New York sound today, first four bars: "Wake up fresh, about to get dressed, diamonds on my neck, bitches on my Lex..." What the f---? Am I lying? [laughs] I like all the older New York hip-hop. I was listening to everyone from the Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep all the way to Dipset. I was also into the Digging In The Crates crew, that whole Harlem World movement, Children of the Corn, Big L and I was a huge DMX fan because of my big brother. Really, I was obsessed with DMX.