Behind the Star: A$AP Rocky


Patrick Philpott

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“Everybody should be able to enjoy their life, because you only live once. So I just want to get it all out there and be the best role model that I can be. If people want to put me in that kind of predicament. I mean, I didn’t ask to be a role model because I’m not perfect.”       – A$AP Rocky

This column is going to continue to take a look at the “before” part of our everyday music stars and how the spotlight changed their lives for either better or worse. Today’s “Behind the Star” artist preview is on the rap superstar A$AP Rocky, specifically looking at his early childhood and his journey as an artist so far.

Growing up for A$AP wasn’t as easy as you would imagine; he grew up in the crime-infested neighborhoods of Harlem in NYC and his childhood featured a number of hardships that helped shape the artist into who he is today. He got himself caught up in street activities such as theft and gang affiliations as a youth which made schooling and his home life even more difficult. At the young age of 12, Rocky witnessed his father being arrested and jailed for possession and distribution. The following year his brother was shot and killed a few blocks from their apartment.

After these unfortunate tragedies, Rocky and his single mother spent a good chunk of their time camping out at shelters, going in and out, and looking for a new home. During this time Rocky was introduced to rap music, and from there he saw his opportunity to express his opinion and feelings, an opportunity that he never really felt while growing up. At the age of eight years old, he began rapping, starting from simple radio beats that he would hear in the shelters.

With his father and brother out of the picture, it only left his mother and him. He started experimenting with different rhymes and beats for the next couple of years, but never started taking his career seriously until his late teens. He grew up listening to a steady diet of UGK, Devin the Dude, the Diplomats, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and among many other inspiring artists during this time.

One of the many qualities that sets A$AP apart from other artists when his career started taking off was his assembly of friends who made up his crew; artists who shared the same creativity long before their major record deal. Rocky, being a member of A$AP Mob, made him and his crew a self-sustained money pot. This seemingly small move increased his brand’s desirability at the bidding table, and therefore Sony saw a future saving possibility. The crews three main producers, Clams Casino, A$AP Ty Beats, and spaceGhostPurrp, are mostly responsible for cultivating and continuing to form A$AP’s smooth vibe.

After the long hard work and dedication, two new fresh singles were dropped for his opening debut. “Peso” and “Purple Swag” were the first released, and from there on A$AP’s career took off. In October 2011, Rocky accepted a $3 million dollar contract ($1.7 million for his solo releases and $1.3 million to help fund A$AP Worldwide) from Sony Subsidiary Solo Grounds, which is distributed by RCA Records. His first release with the new singled record label was his six song EP entitled Deep Purple, where it he continued to exemplify his new Harlem flow that he was ascending in the rap community.