A$AP Ferg is at the top of his game and Still Striving
Vancouver, BC – Originally published November 14, 2016 – He’s been on a tight tour schedule for the better part of the last year but A$AP Ferg shows no signs of slowing down. He’s just come off a heavy show roster that had him hitting Australia, New Zealand, Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo in a matter of months, finally bringing his Turnt And Burnt Tour to one of his most beloved cities in Canada. In the dressing room of Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre before his all-ages show, he’s cozied up on the couch in sweats and slides getting ready for his sold-out performances later that evening.
“How you doin’, sweetheart?” he asks as he warmly as he extends a hand delivering a firm shake.
As he sets aside his laptop in preparation for our conversation, we get into small talk about favourite cities, “I love coming to Canada, of course. They get to see me like once or twice a year. It’s dope coming to Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal…” and based on the expected attendance of his show later that evening, Vancouver is elated to have him back too.
Raised in the rich culture of Harlem, New York, art and design have always been a strong part of Ferg’s creative output, even though rapping hasn’t always been on the forefront as a career choice.
He explains that before he was faced with real opportunities in the rap game, at times he eye-rolled at the thought of the typical rapper persona, “Artists with the big stupid chains…it just kinda looked like we didn’t know anything past what was in front of us. That’s what I thought was kind corny. But we did it a different way though. Kanye did it a different way, Pharrell did it in a different way. So we took our own route….on how we were gonna market ourselves, brand ourselves.”
Ferg has a confident yet mellow vibe with an easy-to-talk-to demeanour. Following the hype from his 2016 release Always Strive And Prosper, Ferg and the A$AP Mob are pushing the boundaries of hip-hop, fashion, art and culture. With the first volume of their Cozy Tapes series titled Friends, released this past Halloween, the movement continues to grow like rapid fire.
Speaking on the Mob’s keys to success, Ferg credits the crew’s genuine authenticity from the very beginning, “We come from a tough place and we still allowed ourselves to think out of the box, even though we got ridiculed and people criticized us for wearing tight jeans at the time, Rick Owens sneakers that look like space boots. Now everyone wants to dress like that but we had the guts to actually go and do what we wanted to do and be unique. That’s what sets us apart.”
And the proof is in the numbers, with Cozy Tapes Vol. 1 debuting at number 3 on the iTunes charts, A$AP Ferg and the rest of the Mob continue to set trends within and beyond the realms of hip-hop. Their recent posse compilation is a diverse tribute to the late founder of the A$AP Mob, A$AP Yams and features a star-studded roster of talent including Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, Tyler The Creator, Skepta, Lil Uzi Vert and more.
Ferg touches on the process of how the appropriately titled Friends all came together, “All of the people are friends – Wiz Khalifa, Tyler – we work with them, have business with them or are just fans of their work,” he explains, “some of it was tracks we had, like “Young N***a Livin’” – we had that already. A lot of the tracks was new though too. We wanted to put out some fresh work – some songs we just couldn’t get away from. Like if we liked the song a lot so we put it on our album.”
Having already worked with some of the greatest in the business, both on record and behind the scenes Ferg takes his work seriously when he’s in the studio, even the stuff the world doesn’t get to see, “a lot of it is just behind the scenes stuff but I think it’s good for me as an artist,” Ferg explains, “like, I played the song that Missy is on for Madonna. The whole time I’m thinking crazy like, what if I got Madonna and Missy on the song? But just her input and criticism toward the song, what she thinks about it or whatever is good enough for me because the final product is a masterpiece ‘cause she had a hand in it.”
Ferg has also been linked to super-producers like, Pharrell, Swizz Beatz and DJ Mustard but after making a series of Instagram posts in the studio with Alchemist, we may be able to expect a collaboration with another heavyweight, “um… you never know,” he replies with a mysterious smirk, “I don’t like to give away too much. Like, nowadays there’s no more magic. I love magic and you don’t see the process of magic, so I don’t really want to tell the process.”
With the success of this year’s Always Strive And Prosper and it’s incredible list of credits who is left on A$AP Ferg’s bucket-list of collabs? “I need to work with Dre, J. Cole, Seal, Phil Collins. Quincy Jones…how could I forget him? I wanna hear all the songs Michael Jackson didn’t put out. I would love to spar with Kendrick in the studio. I think it would be good for the sport.”
Still at the beginning half of his Turnt and Burnt Tour, hitting most major cities across North America, we finish up the conversation speaking on his next moves and Ferg leaks that a new project is on the horizon, “I can leak that I’m about to drop a project called Still Striving it’s going to be really soon like ASAP. I’m talking in a matter of weeks.”
Interview conducted by Kassandra Guagliardi for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada