A$AP Rocky Talks ‘A.L.L.A’ Album, Crazy Limo Rides With Mos Def & Rappers Biting Styles in 2015 [EXCLUSIVE]
When A$AP Rocky speaks, it's hard not to stop what you're doing and listen. After scoring a No. 1 hit with the release of his debut album, Long. Live. ASAP, and defying hip-hop norms with his fashion sense and outlook on music as a whole, the 26-year-old trailblazer was the perfect artist to join the Red Bull Music Academy for their "Conversation" series.
From the moment he walked onto the stage at Madiba Harlem inside My Image Studios in New York on Thursday night (May 7), the rapper had a cool and calm demeanor. The reason: he admitted that he was pretty high at that point. But no matter how lit he was, Rocky still had a lot to say about his Harlem hometown, his new album, A.L.L.A and hip-hop in 2015.
Coming back home might be a relief for some, but Rocky expressed disappointment in how much Harlem has changed since he left his roots and moved downtown to Manhattan's SoHo district. "When I come here, I don't see people having fun anymore," he said. "It's not really about gentrification, I mean you can move into the neighborhood, but you should have fun with yourself. I feel like there's no one to have fun [with] and that may be the problem. I know people who lived in Harlem, and now it's washed up. We used to have fun back in the days, and now that's no more."
He reminisced about the spots he would go to around his neighborhood and in the Bronx. During one July 4th celebration, had had firecrackers and was ready to party, but no one was on the streets but police officers. Aside from the changes he's seen in Harlem, Rocky admitted he hasn't listened to albums like Drake's If You're reading This It's Too Late nor Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly -- not because he's ignoring them but he knows they'll always be there and he'll get around to it. He also delved into how New York City hip-hop has changed and is no longer one definitive sound.
"I don't know if there's a sound that actually represents or defines New York right now," he said. "What sound is that? We don't know. Is it Bobby Shmurda? Is it French Montana and them? Is it A$AP and us? Is it Joey Bada$$? Or is it Action Bronson? What's the sound? There's not one sound, and I think that's the dope thing about it."
Atlanta hip-hop is taking over, but Rocky thinks there is nothing unique coming out of that mix of artists. "Because if we're going to be honest, some of the dopest music is coming out of Atlanta right now, but all them n----s sound the same. That's my thing. There's a few dudes who are killing it, and I'm not saying that all rappers in Atlanta are doing it but there are the same cadences and some even recycle the same lyrics on each other," Rocky revealed.
He also added, "You can be inspired but you can't bite off of contemporary artists that are in your same league because that's just technically biting."
One person who he said has been accused of biting other rappers is Action Bronson, who many say sounds a lot like Ghostface Killah. "Like Action Bronson, I'm not condoning him, because a lot of people say he sounds a lot like Ghostface Killah. But Ghostface is a rapper for my generation, but Bronson is for the generation for after us because these kids don't have knowledge of none of these rappers like that," he explained.
For artists to make it in the music industry these days, Rocky gives a reminder that albums need to be better and a cohesive unit as opposed to just one hit single out of the track list. "I feel like Trinidad [James], having that song that he had, and being the biggest single of 2012. This kid and he has the biggest single, and Trinidad James is a very good friend of mine. I think he deserves a lot, and I think he works hard. And to be honest, I can say he doesn't sound like other n----s, but where's he now? That single s--- don't do nothing," Rocky shared.
Moving on to his own new album, At. Long. Last. A$AP (A.L.L.A) will showcase how far he can take hip-hop outside of its stereotypical path. The MC was inspired by a variety of sounds -- from old school hip-hop to the Stooges -- while crafting his sophomore LP. During the talk, he shared one of the tracks from the record called "Everyday," which features vocals from Rod Stewart and Miguel as well as production help from Mark Ronson.
While he was reluctant to share many details about the album, he did say that this album is "just my point of view. It's the way you see things."
Last month, Rocky made headlines for bringing Mos Def, better known as Yasiin Bey, onstage during his London show. Now fans can expect a song from the two since they collaborated in the studio together. A friend they both had in common introduced them at an art gallery show in Paris. Rocky tells the story of how they needed to head to a London studio where Ronson and Danger Mouse were waiting for him to lay down a track. However after a delay, Bey and Rocky missed their train from Paris to London.
"So [Yasiin Bey] made us miss the f---ing train," Rocky said. "So we get there, and the custodian was just overwhelmed by the both of us and said, 'Hey man, my uncle does limo driving, and he's a driver. He can drive you over to London.' [I say] 'Oh cool, cool, how much is he charging? Is he gonna let us smoke in the car?' He was like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's all good. It's all good.'"
"So we drove six hours to London and made it to the studio by 2AM and made history. And also he stayed in London with me for like three weeks. So we were just chilling every day, randomly just chilling, walking down the street, just chilling. Word. It was dope."
While many fans were expecting A.L.L.A. on May 12, Rocky set the record straight on the album release date, which will now be June 2. If "Everyday" is any indication, A$AP Rocky is bringing more heat this summer.
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