Authenticity is a pillar in hip-hop, and A$AP Ferg is as real as they come. In all the endeavours he's pursued this year, from his April release Always Strive and Prosper, to the A$AP Mob compilation, Cozy Tapes Vol. 1: Friends, Ferg has remained fervently true to himself.
"There are a lot of on-the-surface artists out here that don't want to share the real," the 28-year-old Harlemite tells Exclaim! "But I feel like my real stories could help people. I feel like I'm put on this earth to help people and music is one of the biggest platforms to do it. It's bigger than just me."
That commitment to being genuine is apparent on Cozy Tapes, a homage to fallen A$AP Mob co-founder A$AP Yams. Despite any sadness surrounding the young executive's sudden death, the Mob keeps Cozy Tapes light, amplifying the rowdy, braggadocios style Yams helped create as their way of paying respects.
Ferg confirms that Cozy Tape's celebratory feel was deliberate. "Yams was a happy person, he wasn't a sad person. We wanted to embody him, his aesthetic and his vibe throughout the tape. Naturally, that's what came."
Brimming with features, including Tyler, the Creator, Juicy J and Skepta, quality control was paramount for the Mob during the creation of Cozy Tapes. Ferg details its careful curation, citing perfectionism as the main reason for the tape's delays. "It took a while [to create], not because we couldn't get it together, but because we felt like it wasn't right. I've been wanting to put it out, but it took a little time for everybody to get on the same page. We got the right songs, the right features and we felt it was right, so we put it out."
As he did on Prosper earlier this year, Ferg's appearances on Cozy Tapes vacillate between boasting, party rhymes and pensive, more personal reflection. It's a risk for Ferg, whose 2013 debut, Trap Lord, introduced the world to his grittier, edgier side. But he says he has no regrets when it comes to being more honest and open on wax.
"I feel like my fans need to hear 'me.' They need to know who I am. I put my personal stories and situations out to the public to let them know that I am a human being and I go through the same things that they go through. I don't want them to love a hollow artist."
With Prosper and Cozy Tapes under his belt, Ferg is currently headlining his North American "Turnt and Burnt" tour with Cozy Tapes guest Playboi Carti and California wordsmith Rob $tone. He's also laying the bricks for a solid 2017; hard at work on a Trap Lord follow-up and designing a new capsule collection with Adidas.
As for future volumes of Cozy Tapes and keeping Yams' memory alive, Ferg only promises surprises. "You can expect more work. I don't know if it'll be more volumes or Cozy Tapes or [something else].... you never know how we'll feel next year."
A$AP Ferg plays Toronto on November 27, London ON on November 28 and Montreal QC on November 30.
Check out the party rhymes of "Yamborghini High" below.