Founded in Harlem, with an immeasurable global influence, A$AP Mob is a collective comprised of today’s heavyweights in the music and fashion world – think Rocky, Ferg, Bari and Nast – centered around the motto “Always Strive and Prosper”. From its inception in 2006, the group has stuck true to this: striving, prospering, and dominating every creative outlet they touch. Following on from last week’s dissection of Tyler, the Creator’s history (and as such, Odd Future) we ought to pay homage and talk on A$AP Mob, being the east coast counterpart with a history rich with storylines.
Everything started with Bari, Illz, and the late Yams, originally intended to be named PIF (meaning paid in full) and aiming to conquer. Quickly, Yams interjected, saying “F**k that. We’re called A$AP. Always Strive And Prosper.” Rocky was subsequently recruited, then Ferg in ’08, with the former going on to become a breakthrough artist with his debut tape “Deep Purple”, especially so “Peso”.
From the early days, A$AP Mob has been busy on the fashion side of things as well; designer Dom facilitated the collaboration between the Mob and streetwear label Blvck Scvle on a collection featuring the iconic VSVP hoodie as well as a multitude of Rocky-centric merch offerings.
The group project “Lords never worry” released in 2012, and was quickly followed up by Rocky’s debut studio album “Long.Live.A$AP”, which featured home-run classics like Goldie, Wild for the Night and Fashion Killa. As well as this, Ferg dropped his debut album “Trap Lord” – this was a pivotal 12 months for the collective, with three massive projects dropping one after the other, all in all putting the Mob on the map as a force to be reckoned with.
2015 saw the untimely, shock passing of founding member Yams, having a massive effect on each and every member – especially so Rocky, who was the one to find his friend and partner mid overdose. He opened up later that year, saying “I just lost my brother. F–k all this music sh-t. When it comes down to it, would I trade this music for Yams? Yes,” he admitted. “Because in all reality. Yams is the only person that’s actually been through this sh-t with me and knows how I feel.”
“He choked on his vomit. He suffocated on his vomit in his sleep. If it was drugs in his body or not, he still suffocated off his vomit,” Rocky revealed.
Every year since, the Mob have hosted “Yams Day” as a celebration of his life; the festival sees A$AP Mob and friends perform, as well as a host of merch offerings from the likes of Off-White.
Rocky’s “At.Long.Last.A$AP” dropped less than a year after Yams’ passing, being the final time the co-founder featured on a project with Mob members. The album sees Rocky and the Mob breaking new territory and experimenting with new sound – a style we’ve since come to love and recognise as Rocky’s – with L$D and Strawberry Fields being timeless highlights to this day.
Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1 & 2 released in 2016 and 17 respectively, to unprecedented fanfare, with the likes of Skepta, Lil Yachty and Tyler, the Creator all featuring prominently. The tapes serve as a view into the Mob’s universe, and all their friends that come part in parcel; rarely do we see such star-studded lineups on a record, or records of such quality, but here we are.
More recently in terms of fashion, the Mob’s ringleaders have been Rocky – who is as fashion-forward as can be, donning anything and everything and consistently making the news by throwing out gender norms – as well as Nast, who has garnered attention through killer styling as well as a number of collaborative projects with the likes of Converse.