For the A$AP Mob, the words, "Always Strive and Prosper" are more than a cleverly construed phrase for the group's now unmistakeable dollar sign-laden abbreviation. It's their reality. Since 2011, the New York collective — comprised of rappers, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast, A$AP Ant, A$AP Twelvy and more — have been at hip-hop's forefront, with their gothic-inspired attire and matching sonic aesthetic.
While the Houston-inspired drawl of Rocky attracted many to the burgeoning rap pack, his A$AP brethren refused to stand idly by. From songs like "A Hundred Million Roses," which showcased Ferg's unique cadence and agile lyricism, to Nast's '90s-influenced "rugged and raw" verses on "Trilla," each member diversified themselves from the next. Eager to put out something substantial, the mob would assemble for their highly anticipated debut mixtape, Lord$ Never Worry. However, the mixtape would fall short of expectations with fans and critics alike dismissing the release as filler. Even Rocky expressed displeasure with the rushed nature of the project.
Learning from their past mistakes, A$AP Mob promise to deliver the goods for their upcoming debut album, L.O.R.D. Exclaim! talked to A$AP Mob (Ferg, Ant, Twelvy, A$AP Illz) about being rap's high priests, "industry bullshit," and their upcoming debut album, L.O.R.D.
Ferg, you once tweeted that, "Tyler Perry stole R. Kelly's wave." How did you come to that conclusion?
Ferg: [Laughs] I feel like Tyler Perry films kind of took a chapter out of R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet music videos and made them feature-length films. If R. Kelly was a film director or had his own playground to shoot in, he would be making the same type of films Tyler Perry is doing. I don't know if that's true, but I feel he was definitely inspired in some way by R. Kelly videos.
On YouTube there are a number of videos called "Stashhouse Freestyles" where you guys are rapping in what seems to be early in the group's career. What was the significance of those moments?
Ferg: It's good you know about that.
Twelvy: We use to be broke as shit. Fighting over McChicken [burgers] man, we were really hungry to get [in the game]. And the way we would kill the hunger pains would be to rap over them.
Ferg: Those were some of the best times of my life because we were just coming up, really getting our bag. That's also a really dominant memory because that was one of the few times everybody was really focused and building A$AP.
You guys talked about how Lords Never Worry felt rushed. What are the changes you are making to ensure the L.O.R.D. EP doesn't suffer the same fate?
Ferg: We're taking our time with it now. We're just out to make history. We don't want to put out quantity over quality know what I'm saying? We got to put out some dope shit because that's what we're here to do at the end of the day.
Collectively, do you guys feel the Lords Never Worry mixtape showcased your best abilities at that time?
ALL: Hell no!
What would you guys have improved on?
Twelvy: I can't speak for then, but we've just improved with time. I know I improved, I know my brothers improved and it's time to show and prove.
Ferg: Well for me "Choppas on Deck" and "Work," I put my all into those songs because they were originally going to go on [Trap Lord], but instead I put it on the mixtape because that's what we were focusing on at the time. That's why they all kind of sound alike because that's where I wanted to take my music sonically.
Twelvy, what does this line mean to you, "I'm still tryna convince the geeks, so I'm sharing the internet…"
Twelvy: But I run the streets. [Laughs] Rest in peace to [rapper] Stack Bundles. I look at it like this — you're not always going to completely run shit because everybody is going to have something to say, whether it's the industry or the internet. So, I feel like how Stack Bundles felt, where he had a whole other type of competition [to be looking out for] at the time. He couldn't get into the internet because he was so [deep] into the streets. This is the generation where the streets and the internet collide and it's just one world now and we're here for the taking.
Ferg: You got thugs on Twitter.
Twelvy: Word, Twitter thugs.
Ferg: Then you got real thugs on Twitter.
How do you respond to "Twitter thugs" and the hate you see on the internet?
Twelvy: You got to hit them with the Cam'ron emoji, "You Mad." [laughs]
Have you guys started figuring out which songs are going to make it on the L.O.R.D. EP?
Ferg: We got a lot of songs but we're just working right now. We're going to keep making songs until we have enough for probably like three albums and then we'll just pick the best out of those songs for L.O.R.D.
Didn't you guys at one point have a track called, "My 2" with you Ferg and Twelvy on it? What ever happened to that track?
Ferg: That's on the album. And how you know about that?
Maybe, it was a good guess. Why did you guys choose "Trillmatic" as the first single?
Ferg: We just felt it was one of those songs that are needed now because everyone is coming at New York, and [Nast] was the best candidate to represent it. Honestly, it's a perfect marriage between New York, Nast and the A$AP Mob period.
Ferg, you've talked a lot about your passion for art, fashion, music. Do you still feel like rapping is a job for you or is it just something to bring in the income?
Ferg: Nah, I definitely enjoy rapping and touring but there are some aspects about it that bring you back down to earth and show you that the industry is full of politics sometimes. And you got to do certain shit or whatever. But that's why we're A$AP, because we're ending all that nonsense and we're just going to continue putting out the shit we love to do. That's what we fight for.
What are some of those issues you want to put an end to?
Ferg: Sometimes, the label will tell you, "you got to do these interviews, you got to do this, you got to do that," but if it doesn't make sense then I'm not going to do it. And my label rep's right here, but honestly if I don't fuck with a certain person I'm going to respond a certain way. As artists we're supposed to be [true to ourselves]. Nowadays, everything is so stagnant and there's no true artistry. Nobody has a mind for themselves. Everyone wants to be in front of a car with motherfucking "bling bling" and all of this bullshit, but at the end of the day what are you really saying? What do you want to put out to the world?
What do YOU want to say to the world then?
Ferg: What I want to say is be innovative and be creative and have your own mind. Stop trying to be like everybody else.
Well, yeah you've also talked about the importance of having lyrics that are relatable. Why is that so important for you?
Ferg: Your lyrics have to be relatable because people need something to gravitate to you know? I feel like we're preachers.
Ant: I only write situation raps. I make raps I went through, what my homies are going through so they have something to relate to. If you make music nobody can relate to, who will feel you? You're speaking farce. You better take that shit up the block to some other kid. Where I come from if you're not keeping shit honest, ain't nobody going to fuck with you, for real.
Ferg: I feel there have been a bunch of Milli Vanilli's in the game for years and I feel like we need a moment of clarity. And A$AP is that breath of fresh air.
Do you guys feel you're finally at that point behind A$AP Rocky's shadow?
Ferg: I don't feel like we've ever been in his shadow because we were a work in progress, it wasn't our time yet. So, we weren't even – he was doing his thing and we were in the back developing ourselves in order to get to that next level.
Illz: We were just helping each other get to where we needed to be as a unit. So, when it was Rocky's time we all had to step behind Rocky and just help.
Ferg: Yeah put him on the pedestal, that's what we all did.
Illz: We all form up behind each other and push whoever we feel is next in line. When it was Ferg time [to shine], we had to come through for Ferg. Now it's Nast's time, Twelvy's time, Addie time, everybody's time [for the spotlight]. No matter how we do it, we're going to get it done.