After two years of massive hype, a three-million-dollar record deal, and a smash-hit mixtape, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky is finally ready to drop his first LP, Long.Live.A$AP tomorrow. Featuring a roster of guests that reads like a who's who of the best young MCs in the business, and with production by some of hip-hop's biggest talents, the album delivers on all the high expectations that have been placed on the twenty-four-year-old's shoulders.
When we caught up with Pretty Flacko in the RCA Records office, he was in the middle of lunch and immediately offered us some potato chips. Soft-spoken, charming, and generally a pleasure to talk to, Rocky isn't what you'd expect from one of the most famous young rappers in the world. Together, we discussed the trappings of fame, his love of Gnarls Barkley, and his appreciation of Ann Demeulemeester. He even matter-of-factly told us his New Year's resolution, which he thinks he might actually be able to keep.
Tell us about the new record, are you excited to be putting it out?
"Yeah man, it's dope. I've been working on it for a while now, I think people are gonna love it."
Did you have a favorite producer to work with?
"Danger Mouse and Skrillex – my boy Sonny. I want people to hear the song with me and Danger Mouse. It's called 'Phoenix.' It's really dope. I'm actually singing in the background – people don't know that. It took us about five days to make the beat — all live instruments."
Had you ever recorded a track with all-live instrumentation before?
"Not before I was with Danger Mouse. I was one of the biggest Gnarls Barkley fans that I know. When I used to sell weed, I used to bag up to 'Who's Gonna Save My Soul,' 'No Time Soon,' 'Who Cares?,' 'Charity Case,' all that shit. I used to just play The Odd Couple all day. Just bump it. And I fell in love with Danger Mouse's production, to the point where I've always said in interviews that I'd love to work with him, love to work with him, love to work with him. And how he found out about me was, like three years ago, A$AP Ferg and I did a cover of that 'Would Be Killer' song. He saw it, and liked my creativity. This was like working with Jay-Z for me. Seriously."
Was there anyone else you'd wish you could have had on the record that you didn't have time to include?
"MGMT. I love MGMT. There's so many other people, too. I wanted [Kid] Cudi on it. The Lana track didn't make it, everyone's a little pissed about that [laughs]. I wanted to work with Earl Sweatshirt. I think he's dope."
Is working with someone like Skrillex pretty different from a traditional hip-hop producer?
"Well the style is different, but the experience and the process is kind of similar."
What about the MCs? Is there a track you're particularly excited about?
"'1 Train.' We have this posse-cut. It's Kendrick, Joey Bada$$, Big K.R.I.T., Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson. It's amazing."
How was it working with Drake again for "Fuckin' Problems"?
"Man, yo. Drake is my boy, so that was like a natural thing. He brought me on his tour – that was my first tour ever, and I had the time of my life."
You've been a big picture in the fashion community. What designers have you been into lately?
"Ann Demeulemeester – one of my favorites. And, of course, Raf. Raf forever. It's Raf or die for me."
How are things different from how they were a year ago?
"Now I'm actually famous – last year I was popular. [laughs] Now it's insane man."
Can you just walk around the street like a normal guy anymore?
"Nah, not no more. That's old. Can't do that no more."
What do you miss most?
"Riding my bike. I miss riding my bike without security and shit."
So what's next now that the album is about to drop?
"I'm gonna put out another album. I'm putting out an album in February. Nah, I'm just fucking with you [laughs]. No, I'm gonna promote, do some touring, do a couple videos, do some cameos and acting. After this album I just want people to chill. Before I had money, I'd be getting wasted, going to raves, going to court, having fist fights. Up until now, my life has been crazy. I'm not doing none of that shit. I want to stay out of trouble. I like being free. I don't like jail."
Did you have any New Years resolutions?
"Mmhmm. I'm gonna stop smoking so much weed."
Photo: Courtesy of RCA Records