Inside was a white room similarly adorned with black and white photographs. A hip crowd walked slowly from one frame to the next, taking photos, discussing. Past a small door at one end of the room by a niche in the wall was a large colorful canvas portraying a bright, stylized figure holding the world in his arms—A$AP Ferg’s personal tribute to A$AP Yams was being auctioned, silently. Next to the painting, two pairs of sneakers were positioned as if they too were works of art.
A$AP Ferg is a rapper and member of the A$AP Mob, but is lesser known as a painter and fashion designer. Earlier this year he partnered with Adidas Skateboarding to design the A$AP Ferg x Adi-Ease sneakers, a project they launched on December 5th at Art Basel in Miami. There, Ferg also showcased the Always Strive and Prosper photo series by photographer friend Brock Fetch, his Traplord x Adidas Yams T-shirt collection, and his painting dedicated to A$AP Yams called "Tatted Angel." Yams died in January 2015 from what has been variously reported as an accidental drug overdose, or complications from sleep apnea.
I met A$AP Ferg on a very cold Saturday night (by LA standards):
You just showcased you work at Art Basel, how was that experience?
It was great! I’m a big fan of Art Basel. I went there last year for the second time. The first time it was just so overwhelming, but the second time I enjoyed it. I kind of like just braced myself and just embraced it. I shot a video out there, and I had the best experience of my life. This third time I had an event out there, which was crazy! Everybody came out, you know, everybody was so supportive. I launched my sneaker December 5th, sold out the first day on the Adidas website. Now we’re just promoting it, you know putting it in different stores. It’s crazy.
I know you studied art and fashion in school. How do you find painting and music different when it comes to self-expression and expressing yourself through art?
Well, I feel like music is a little different because you don’t need much to make music. I can make music right now (starts making a beat by slapping his hands on the armrests of his chair), and rap on that beat, I record it with my phone. With painting it takes a lot to prep that painting. You have to go get canvases, you have to go buy paints. It’s just a lot of preparation, you have to wait till it dries, come back, paint it again, and do this and do that. For music it’s like I can just do that right here right now, so that’s why I fell in love with music. Like back then, I was painting and designing clothes but the fabrics and the paints cost so much money it would put a hole in my pocket. But when I create music I can just be in my bed writing a song.
How do you think the rap platform allowed you to venture in all of these artistic platforms, including painting, design and fashion?
My rapping is just the best advertising in the world for me to do all different types of things, you know. Anything I want to do, I’m on TV to sell it, to showcase it.
What about the lyrics that are on the shoelaces of the sneakers: how did you pick out the best lyrics to go on people’s feet?
When I think about Hood Pope, because that’s where the lyrics on the shoes come from, I feel like everybody says that’s their favorite song of that album. I don’t know why, if it’s the melody or what I’m saying in the song. But I went to Japan for the first time and I was breaking the language barrier, I’d never seen this before. Like a bunch of kids, who didn’t know any English, were singing to rap music, and they probably didn’t even know what it meant, they just knew how it sounded and how it made them feel. So I just felt like that was the right song to go for when doing the laces, it was international.
Tell me about the Always Strive and Prosper photo series Brock Fetch is exhibiting tonight—what do they signify to you and the A$AP Mob?
I think the photos signify the same thing my album signifies. The rags-to-riches. Brock Fetch has been with us since day one, since we didn’t have any money in our pockets and we still remained cool to this day, he still shoots photos of me. So he has seen the whole voyage and that’s basically what my album represents, that voyage: how I wound up where I am.
Do you have any other art and fashion projects coming up?
I am definitely gonna do more art and fashion projects, but right know I am focusing on my music. Ty Dolla $ign just put out the Blasé remix, with me, French Montana and T.I. I got a few other remixes about to come out, but this new single I’m about to drop with Future is retarded, it’s retarded in a great way. It’s gonna be a smash. It’s called New Level and I feel like I am on a new level.