Of the whole A$AP Mob, the Harlem-based hip-hop and fashion collective, A$AP Ferg is known as the most personable one. Funny and gracious in interviews, Ferg is someone you want to root for. Since the death of his good friend A$AP Yams last year, the 27-year-old rapper has spent much of the past few months working on projects that illustrate his wide-ranging interests outside of hip-hop. — from painting, to designing shoes, to creating rugs. Yes, rugs. This past Monday, Ferg unveiled his new Traplord rug at an event thrown by Fancy. He also released a new song, “Tatted Angel,” earlier this week, which discusses his feelings about the death of his good friend Yams.
Before his performance on Monday night, Ferg sat down with Maxim to discuss his new album (coming out in 2016), maturing as an artist, and painting with Swizz Beatz.
So, just to start, why a rug?
I’m excited to be showing that off today with Fancy. I want to get more into lifestyle design. Utensils, bags, towels, anything that I use everyday, I just want people to live in my world.
Your new single, “Tatted Angel” was released this week –
It’s not even a single! It’s just one half of a song. It’s not even going to be on the album. The album is going to be amazing. “Tatted Angel” is me just venting, letting people know what’s on my mind.
It seems super confessional.
It’s very personal. It’s meant to let people a little more into my life. But the album is going to be different. I want to celebrate Yams by making great music and continuing his legacy. It’s not about being stagnant. I’m going to represent for Yams through me and my art, but we don’t have to keep talking about the sadness of his passing. Let’s keep in mind what he did do when he was here and how he affected us. He’d want us to keep growing and progressing, and not just be sad all the time. I wrote so many songs about his death, but some are so personal I probably won’t even release them. I was supposed to release “Tatted Angel” way back, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Eventually I realized my fans deserved to hear it, because they want to know what’s going on inside my head.
The A$AP Mob has been around for almost ten years now. How does it feel to have been working together for so long?
It feels really good. Everybody grows up, you know?
[At this point in the interview, Ferg asks to be excused for a moment as Erykah Badu has come over to meet the rapper. When Erykah Badu requests an audience, one must obey.]
Sorry about that. Life is good, man. Erykah Badu coming over just to say hi. Damn. I’ve achieved a lot, but I have a lot more to achieve. I want to see some of my friends make it, like Marty Baller. The world is going to go crazy when he comes out. I’m speechless right now, really. I’m just a kid from Harlem. I got a sneaker that’s doing deals with Adidas, working in the studio with Madonna and Missy Elliot, and huge things like that. No little things, huge things.
Do you consider yourself a musician foremost or a visual artist and designer?
I think I’m a musician first because I heard music before I started painting. My father used to play a lot of Mary J. Blige. I remember seeing that Biggie CD “Ready To Die” with the baby on it, that was the first album I’d ever heard in my life. The music moved me first, and then I started to paint to the music. Music changed my life.
You’re working with a ton of different producers for the new album. How do you keep your sound consistent over the course of an album?
I wasn’t really trying to keep it consistent. I was going with how I was feeling at the time. What was consistent was the emotion that went into it. Deep emotion, real stories — that’s what tied it in. The production is wild. I worked with everyone for this thing. There’s so many songs that didn’t even make the album that are great.
And you did some wild stuff while working on the album, like painting with Swizz Beatz, right?
We would paint in the studio. I had two weeks in the studio with Swizz, and some days we would just paint in the studio. Messing up microphones and stuff like that.
You directed the “Thought It Was a Drought” video for Future. What’s that going to be like?
That’s going to be like a movie, man. I’ve been working on it for so long. It’s really a work of art, so we took a while to get it right. But it’s done. We’re just waiting for his team to tell us to hit the red button and release it. The video takes the song to the next level.
What’s the biggest difference you’ve seen happening in New York City nowadays as a native New Yorker yourself?
I seen people more open to different cultures. Coming from Harlem, they frowned down on anything that was unique. They used to call us gay because we wore fitted clothes and things like that. But now everybody wears fitted clothes and dress upscale. It’s blurred lines now and it’s great.
Photos by Mark Horton / WireImage