The Trap Lord, A$AP Ferg: Bringing the art back to Hip-Hop [Interview]
Toronto, ON – Maybe it’s because he grew up in Harlem, a place where hustling never stops, especially when it comes to fashion and music. Maybe it’s because he was raised to do everything on his own. Or maybe, it’s a little but of both. Whatever it is, one thing’s for certain, A$AP Ferg won’t stop until the art and life are brought back to hip-hop.
After making an appearance on three tracks off A$AP Rocky’s debut studio album LONG.LIVE.A$AP and on A$AP Mob’s mixtape Lords Never Worry, Ferg will be stepping out on his own on August 20 when he releases his debut album, entitled, Trap Lord to show the music industry what innovation and creativity means to him.
The album, which already received great reviews after the listening party on August 5 in New York, will feature 13 tracks, including the fan-favourite “Work (Remix),” the ever-so catchy “Shabba Ranks” and the street gospel track “Hood Pope.” Cameos include A$AP Rocky, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Waka Flocka Flame, B-Real, Onyx and more.
“Ferg’s debut album will not sound like anything that’s out in the music industry right now.” – A$AP Yams
So, what’s behind the title, Trap Lord? “Trapping means hustling,” explained Ferg. “I went from painting to making clothes to rapping. I always put myself into everything I do one hundred percent. It doesn’t matter what I’m working on. I want to perfect everything I do. Success is the only option. They call me ‘Trap Lord’ because my hustle game is impeccable.”
I sat down with Ferg recently in Toronto while he was in town for The Under the Influence Tour, and for 12 minutes, he took me into his world. I quickly realized that Ferg catches inspiration from many different things and is influenced by not only his past, but also his present. Whether it be his experiences with owning his own clothing business, his artistic background, growing up in Harlem, his family, or other musical greats, he’s been molded by all of these things. His vision for himself is clear and his confidence level in his work is high. But what really stood out to me is that, he’s just really really excited for everyone to hear his new album and can’t wait for the day when it arrives.
Check out the full interview with A$AP Ferg, after the jump.
A$AP Ferg: Q&A
Written by Natasha Paolini for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: We can start by talking about your debut album, Trap Lord. Can you explain the creative direction behind it?
A$AP Ferg: The creative direction behind Trap Lord – the theme of it was to be innovative. I just wanted to bring a new sound, and a new feel to Hip-Hop. I want to show kids that you can step out of the box and still be cool.
HipHopCanada: Nice! I want some insight into the song “Hood Pope,” can you explain what it’s about?
A$AP Ferg: Basically “Hood Pope” is the person who bridges the gap between the hood and enlightenment. I’ll be better off saying the words… [Raps entire first verse of "Hood Pope"]. So, basically what I’m saying is, I’m expressing the pain and all the trials and tribulations of anybody in the hood. That’s why I say ‘we sip cause we hurtin’, and we pull a chrome fifth when they murk them.’ We’re talking about retaliation, and I’m talking about being the hood’s Donnie McClurkin, a famous gospel singer. So, I’m the hood’s Donnie McClurkin, which is the hood pope.
HipHopCanada: So, Harlem has a very big influence on this album?
A$AP Ferg: I would say growing up in Harlem, yeah. Just seeing everything and being in the environment.
HipHopCanada: Has there been anything that happened to you there that really affected you?
A$AP Ferg: Everything, from Harlem. My style, my hustle…Harlem is…a place where you would just never see nobody not looking fly. Because, no matter how broke you are, you’ll find a way to get an outfit. Harlem, they care about the look versus actually doing. But I always wanted to be the person that actually be doing and have the look at the same time. I didn’t wanna be hollow – I wanted to have the look and the shell, with the insides to go with it.
HipHopCanada: That’s why they call it ‘The Mecca of Fashion,’ right?
A$AP Ferg: Exactly!
HipHopCanada: Before you began your music career you had your own clothing line. How would you describe your style?
A$AP Ferg: Unorthodox. You just never know what comes next, but it’s enjoyable.
HipHopCanada: What are some of the staple items in your closet? That you absolutely cannot live without?
A$AP Ferg: My bullet-proof vest. My uptown Air Force Ones. My Zsubi jeans with rips in em. My RRL’s with rips in em – the ones I had in the “Work” video, the first “Work” video. And, my Tommy boxers.
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] What’s the most expensive piece of clothing or accessory that you’ve bought so far?
A$AP Ferg: I just bought a Jean Paul Gaultier book for about $500.00. Oh, nah, I just bought a ring too. It’s this big, ruby ring, and it has these diamonds around it. It’s by a boutique named Bless in Soho. It was the only ring, and it’s 14k gold. They used to be a jewelry company that made Pope-looking jewelry and artifacts and things like that. And they turned into a clothing boutique but they had that one ring left, and I purchased it. It was a lot of money, and I won’t speak on how much I spent. [Laughing]
HipHopCanada: No worries, you don’t have too. I think that everyone in life has a purpose. What do you think your purpose in the music industry is?
A$AP Ferg: Being innovative and creative.
HipHopCanada: So, how are you going about doing that? Is it people that you’re working with?
A$AP Ferg: Definitely people I’m working with. My approach. Being confident about new sounds and music. And, also with the artists I work with, broadening their horizons to new music and new sounds and how I envision them being on one of my songs. It’s sort of like the song “Lord” that I have on my album Trap Lord with Bone Thugs, they have an old sound, they approached it with the double time and everything like that. But just by me manipulating their voice and taking Bizzy Bone’s voice and chopping it, and bringing it back up-pitch, it’s like bringing them into my world. With a trap lord prayer at the end with Bizzy Bone, and you hear all of these crazy sounds. Sonically, it takes you somewhere else, but it still has something you can relate to, with their voice.
HipHopCanada: Cool, that sounds really dope. What has the music industry taught you about yourself that you didn’t know before?
A$AP Ferg: It’s 90% business and 10% music and art. That’s why you have so many whack-ass rappers out now, because they are just doing their business right. But, I’m just trying to bring the art back, just trying bring dope videos and visuals back, bring the fun back to Hip-Hop, it’s been drained. Hip-Hop is like the new rock – you look at Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix, or Kurt Cobain as iconic people. Now you’re starting to look at the HOV’s and Kanye’s, as iconic people. I want to bring that back, I don’t want us to fade away, I don’t want Hip-Hop to be dead.
HipHopCanada: Who are some of the iconic people in Hip-Hop that you look up too?
A$AP Ferg: Definitely the Jay’s and the Kanye’s, Pharell’s, Ludacris, Missy Elliott… just people that like.
HipHopCanada: Do you take in any other genres of music?
A$AP Ferg: All the time. Before I got signed, I was listening to Tears For Fears (English rock band), and people who were just trying to make their own genre of music.
HipHopCanada: When it comes to performing and doing shows, do you have any rituals or things that you have do either before a show or after?
A$AP Ferg: We pray. That’s about it. The whole team, staff, everybody. Just go out there and pray and hope no one slips and falls and brake anything or get any law suits.
HipHopCanada: Do you have interesting fan stories, from any shows?
A$AP Ferg: Yeah. In Columbus, Ohio, a fan got on stage and she got naked. Butt naked. Titties out. Booty out. Everything! She just felt free. And I was like “Go for it.” I kept performing, and she was twerking.
HipHopCanada: That’s crazy [Laughing]. Others, and yourself, have commented on your ability to hustle. What makes you so good at hustling?
A$AP Ferg: I just think the way I grew up. I grew up from a good family, you know, middle class. My father was an artist, my mother was working a 9 to 5, so I’ve seen both sides of hustling. My father basically showed me no one else is going to do it for you, you gotta get up and do it yourself. Don’t expect a handout, not even from me. My own Dad told me I’m not always gonna be here, so don’t expect it all from me. I was taught that at a young age, and I was taught how to make money at a young age, different ways. So I think that plays a big part in my career now.
HipHopCanada: That’s really good advice. What else is in store for you?
A$AP Ferg: Just this album, Trap Lord. August 20th is gonna be a big day when it drops. And I’m just looking forward to it, because this is the first time that I attempted to make a demo or an album or a mixtape. I never did that to get signed, nothing, so I think it’s gonna be a good day, for everybody [Laughing].
HipHopCanada: Are you nervous at all?
A$AP Ferg: Nah. I was nervous before. And maybe I’ll get nervous again leading up to the day before or something like that. But I think people are so amped, that it’ll just be good.
HipHopCanada: How was the listening party?
A$AP Ferg: The listening party was good. I got a lot of good reviews, from different magazines and things like that. But I just wish it was in a better environment, more suitable to listen to music, where everyone could sit down and kind of take in the music, versus it being a social event where people were seeing long lost friends. But, you know, people still heard the music. I’m a perfectionist, I just wish it was better speakers. I could go on and on, I’m my worst critic. But, it was cool. Everybody that was supposed to be there, was there.
HipHopCanada: I wasn’t there…
A$AP Ferg: You were supposed to be there…
HipHopCanada: [Laughing] Next time. Do you have any last words?
A$AP Ferg: Go to www.traplord.com for all your ‘Trap Lord’ merch and support me, the Trap Lord, August 20th. A$AP.
HipHopCanada: Thank you so much.
Written by Natasha Paolini for HipHopCanada
Twitter: @ASAPFerg | @Sony_Music
Tweets by @HipHopCanada
Tags: A$AP Ferg, A$AP Mob, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Twelvyy, A$AP Yams, B-Real, Bizzy Bone, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Donnie McClurkin, Fredro Starr, Jay Z, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jimi Hendrix, Kanye West, Kurt Cobain, Ludacris, Onyx, Pharrell Williams, Sticky Fingaz, Waka Flocka Flame