Ever since his mixtapes and homemade music videos started appearing on the internet A$AP Rocky has been a force to be reckoned with in, not just hip hop, but the music scene as a whole. The 24-year-old rapper from Harlem, New York is not your average rapper, he has no time for rap stereotypes and don't even think about calling him a gangster - "If I'm a gangster, people don't have the right definition of the word, it's lazy journalism and ignorance."
Instead A$AP Rocky (it stands for Always Strive and Prosper in case you were wondering) champions fashion, art and individuality, passions that have lead to the artist being on the receiving end of a slew of negative comments and judgement from musical peers, leading him to tell us that "there's a rumour going around that I'm a cross dresser because I wear Rick Owens and Commes Des Garcons."
But when we meet Rocky, a mere three weeks after the death of his father, we're not met by another rap cliché championing bling, women and violence, or an egotistical personality that one might expect from someone of his fame, but instead a charming, sensitive, dedicated and overall fiercely intelligent individual. Hip-hop could do with taking a leaf out of Rocky's book.
"I want my music to bring about a change in, not just the hip hop world, but the world in general for my generation. The message is that we're all one people, and one generation. Stuff like religion, ethnicity, beliefs, race, colour - it doesn't matter anymore. That's the message that I'm trying to push", Rocky tells us sincerely. "In hip hop it's not common to accept people like Jeremy Scott or Alexander Wang as friends because they're gay, but I'm trying to say that it shouldn't matter. Discrimination needs to die with racism and all that other shit."
And while many of his peers may be driven by money, fame and all the other trappings of a celebrity lifestyle, Rocky's mind is elsewhere. "What's giving me ambition at the moment is my dad, and his passing. I never talk about this usually, but it's making me really ambitious." His demeanour slips when recalling an incident from a few days earlier, "I looked on the internet and saw comments like 'Oh he sacrificed his father', and I just think how could you say something so harsh about someone who is still in mourning? That shows me that I've got a lot of work to do. I want to enlighten the youth, and that comment made it clear what I need to do."
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