Pop Culture

A$AP Rocky Teases More Collaborations with Metro Boomin and Takeoff

Fresh from Art Basel, the rapper talks his new song and video and offers his biggest album tease yet.

AAP Rocky.

A$AP Rocky.Courtesy of Cam Hicks.

Leave it to A$AP Rocky to make his art imitate his life in the trippiest way possible. Earlier this fall, a hometown performance at Rolling Loud New York suddenly turned nightmarish when his stage dive into the crowd resulted in so much chaotic groping that Rocky had to plead for security to help extract him. When a video still of his anguished face quickly went viral, his close friend, Tyler, The Creator, made it his Instagram avi. Today, Rocky can laugh about it, and even incorporated the actual scene into the music video for his new song, “Shittin Me,” where actual footage spins off into a Weekend at Bernies homage complete with evil music execs, a clone conspiracy and a Claymation finale. Psychedelic imagery, film references and a conceptual hard-left: In other words, a typical A$AP Rocky video. In an era where most of his peers make staid, quickly-forgotten clips as an afterthought, Rocky’s visuals for the last ten-plus years have had the staying power of music videos from the TRL era. With his penchant for narrative, and ability to thread high concepts and innovative imagery in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming, every Rocky music video is a must-watch.

“We were already [planning] to shoot a video out of Rolling Loud and then that happened and it gave us amazing content,” Rocky laughs. “I was down about my show being cut off early [at the time]. I was really, really upset, like fuck, I prepared so long for this, I didn’t even get to premiere my new song. Pharrell and Tyler lifted my spirits man, Tyler made a joke out of it and it allowed me to laugh. Like yo, Rock, it’s cool man, you still gotta laugh at this shit, this shit still supposed to be fun.”

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Rocky’s talking to me from a balcony in Miami, where Tyler, whose ears must have been ringing at his mention, calls him, briefly interrupting our conversation. (“That fucking asshole,” Rocky laughs.) He’s fresh from Art Basel, where he’s indulging his “new love” of interior decorating—he just debuted the first piece from his new furniture design studio Hommemade. But he’s eager to get out of the city he dubs “the new Vegas” and back home to New York, to more creative “bake sessions” with his AWGE crew to conceptualize more visual projects  like “Shittin Me,” and of course, make more music.

“People [have to realize], man it’s not like I’m out here just doing furniture and clothes—no, I’m working on music every day and I’m just taking my time,” Rocky says passionately. “It takes me longer because I care. I’m [trying to] make a body of work that represents that year but also lasts and it ages like fine wine. I don’t want to do songs [just] to stay relevant or prevalent in the rap game.” Rocky, ever the restless creative, promises more from Hommemade will drop “parallel to the new album” and also teases a return to acting with a new film on the horizon to follow roles in films like Dope and Monster. “I like being in front of the camera, behind the camera, all of that, what can I say?” he laughs.

Rocky may work slowly but this past weekend was a bountiful one. In addition to “Shittin Me” and its visual, the rapper also closes out Metro Boomin’s excellent new album with a soulful hard-hitting outro, “Feel the Fiyaaaah.” The track is bittersweet, however—it marks Rocky’s first collaboration withTakeoff; arriving just a month after the rapper’s tragic murder, it’s the late rapper’s first posthumous song. Rocky is visibly disturbed talking about Takeoff now. His perennial grill-baring smile dims as he gazes off into the distance. He apologizes for his silence as he tries to articulate his feelings.

“‘Unfortunate’ is not the right word,” he says finally. “It’s heavy, bro. I’m not about to gas it like I knew Take very well. I’d met him throughout the years but I never got to work with him on a one-on-one basis until a few months ago. And I wish that…” He trails off again, and waits a beat before he can continue. “We lost somebody ill and I’m still not over what happened to him. And I’m really sorry for that loss. I can’t thank Metro enough for linking us.”

Rocky explains that Metro brought them together at a studio to work before leaving them alone to vibe out while he attended to other songs on his album. “Me and Take were there, on different occasions, for [up to] 10 hours. It was crazy. He takes his time with his flows. And when it’s done, and he put that patent on it, it’s over.” Metro’s “Feel the Fiyaaaah” won’t be the only song to come out of those ten-hour sessions. “We got other shit, and it’s crazy. You gon hear it,” Rocky promises.

This kind of untimely loss is unfortunately familiar territory for Rocky: When I mention that his debut album Long.Live.A$AP will turn 10 in a month, his excitement about the anniversary turns somber as he notes that to reflect on that era is to remember a time when “all my friends weren’t dead, or dead to me.”

One loss that looms the largest is A$AP Yams of course, the Harlem arbiter with a sixth sense for taste, culture and the cutting edge, the man who helped Rocky mastermind his career takeover until Yams’ tragic overdose in 2015. Still, even in his absence, Yams’ vision endures, and his foresight impresses. Yams’ influence will be felt on Rocky’s long-awaited fourth studio album, which, he teases, has such a big Metro Boomin presence that it may as well be presented as a joint tape. “I’m gonna put it to you like this: This next album needs to be just called Flacko Boomin, you hear me?”

“Feel the Fiyaaaah” marks Metro and Rocky’s first real noteworthy collaboration, but they’ve worked together for years biding their time until it felt right. (“Metro’s not thirsty for a Rocky song, I’m not thirsty for a Metro beat… it’s natural,” Rocky says. “Most artists wanna make [collabs just because they’re hot]. For us, it’s like, that’s really my n-gga.”) Their connection goes back a decade, when Rocky was just coming into the industry and before Metro became a mainstream sensation through his work with Future. And as was often the case, all roads lead back to A$AP Yams. “Yams linked me and Metro in 2012,” Rocky reveals. “This is before he’s working with a lot of people in Atlanta. He was still in college. A$AP Yams told me Metro was gonna be Metro. He was like ‘This is the kid I’m telling you.’ So, Yams wanted this.”

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